Why digital leadership is a team sport

Digital business innovation involves complex scenarios that may involve legal, regulatory and ethical issues. And the issues don’t stop at strategy and business development. An organization’s leadership must evolve to accompany digital transformation.

Digital business changes customer propositions, business models, industry models, financial models, culture, regulation, talent and more. For that reason, digital cannot be owned and executed as a single departmental function. Winning in digital business will be a team sport.

Few executives involved in digital change

Yet, many companies still struggle to bring their top leaders along on the digital journey. During a recent Gartner webinar to discuss the key behaviors, or personas, that are necessary to lead digital business, we asked the audience about the level of digital business engagement across their organizations’ C-suite. The audience of business and technology executives across industries responded that few executives in their organization are involved in digital change. As will be discussed during the upcoming Gartner CIO & IT Executive Summit in Toronto, many executives will need to remaster their leadership style to drive digital change.

 Every leader plays on the digital team

It’s tempting to think of digital as distinct and separable into specialist enclaves. All organizations have a deep-seated bias toward perpetuating business as usual and repelling forces that try to change conventional and well-honed best practices.

All leaders must be involved in the same digital sport. R&D can’t beta test digital products that Legal isn’t ready to sign off on. Sales can’t confidently sell online services that IT can’t quickly evolve and properly maintain, and the CEO can’t promise customers a bright new tomorrow if the team can’t deliver. And importantly, the board can’t convince investors to stay loyal if the company looks like it’s on the victim.

Assess your digital leadership quotient by taking the Digital Persona Quiz.

Mr. Raskino is a Gartner Fellow in the CEO research team. Mr. Raskino works primarily with CEOs, business strategy heads, digital leaders and boards of directors focusing on business and technology trends and their implications for business strategy, business models, leadership and organization.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit gartner.com.

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