Digital transformation: the e-leadership issue

Digital transformation: the e-leadership issue

Human Resources are crucial for the digital transformation. I have just underlined this concept, but it is worth repeating it: choosing the right people for the different phases of development is fundamental. Technology is useful, essential even, however the human factor is, as well, especially when it comes to those managers who are expected to lead the transition.
What I previously defined the strategy of talent ” long-term internal staff who need requalification, updating and the freedom to express their full potential, but also specialized professionals who shall be hired to take advantage of their expertise in some specific sectors. And we are talking about many different professionals. The digital revolution doesn’t cancel jobs, it creates some new ones, usually pretty well paid. A data scientist with 2 years of experience may get up to € 40 thousand gross per year; should we be talking about someone with 3 years of experience their salary may amount in € 60 thousand, and reach up to 80 thousand with 5 years of experience or more.  A head of digital having gathered 5 years of experience or more, may earn over €100 thousand. The higher the competition to hire the best brains, the higher the salaries companies are willing to pay (Digital Salary 2018).

The epic fail: leaders with no e-leadership

I have said that, I have repeated it, and I will repeat it once again: human resources are fundamental. That is why companies are fighting over the best candidates and are more than willing ( which is pretty unusual in Italy ) to pay them more and more. Companies need to transform digitally and they need to do it fast. However, notwithstanding the fact that the average time taken for the transition is two years, there are businesses which have been trying to go a bit too fast.

Thus, dedicated department are created, experts are hired and then no time and attention is paid to check who leads who. The most widespread mistake made, especially by big organizations, is hiring digital experts, even senior ones, and then ask them to report to managers with no digital know how whatsoever. They are almost digitally illiterate, they can’t understand how important the digital transformation is, they have no suitable skills. And this results in a high sense of frustration for the digital resources and frequent resignations.

People leaving will soon find another job in another company, while the business which has wasted time and skilled professionals will not progress towards the digital transformation. The issue here is the lack of a proper e-leadership, that is, “top managers’ ability to read reality through the digital lens, feel at ease in a digital environment and lead the Digital Transformation” (Osservatorio delle competenze digitali 2018).

The e-leader’s 4 skills

Nowadays, it is no longer enough to be a manager to be good at leading, running a company.  If you manage a digital department or a team composed of growth hackers, programmatic specialists, Ad traffickers, digital marketing specialists, seo specialists and  digital sale accounts, and you don’t know much about it, you simply are unsuitable for that role. Old style or traditional managers dealing with the digital transformation need to go through such transformation themselves. Digital literacy is no longer enough.

At present, managers are required to have a digital culture and a deep understanding of digital competencies. More specifically: they need to know the most common tools and trends concerning the digital revolution; they are expected to know how to apply critical thinking to the digital to tell opportunities from fades and solve problems when they arise; they are supposed to be good at establishing a good balance between innovation and tradition, a proper use of human resources and the adoption of all digital solutions; they shall have transformative skills, which is the ability to re-interpret organizations, processes and competencies digitally.  The golden rule of a successful digital transformation is: competence. Top-down.

Do you think your company managers are ready for the digital transformation? Tell me your story! Tweet @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book entitled: “People Are Media” 

If you liked this post, you may also read “Digital transformation, a car which works if you can drive it