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The three key qualities required for digital leadership

What are the leadership qualities so needed today to truly align with the new workforce of tomorrow? Francis Goh, CEO, HehSed Consulting, clarifies.

In this age of disruption, the environment has significantly changed, resulting in change as a constant. How have the dynamics in people and talent management evolved and what are the qualities in leadership needed today to truly align with the new workforce of tomorrow?

The rate of change in business productivity significantly lags behind the rate of change in technology. This productivity is further broken down as an individual and as an organisation, where the latter lags further behind the individual.

There is a name for the new reality that we are treading in – the VUCA world.  The ability for one to be able to stay relevant, yet transcend above the tide, to emerge as a successful person in whatever he/she does.

Technological advancement has surpassed beyond human imagination, with Moore’s Law confirming the rate of increase in transistors per square inch. The cadence period used to be 18 months for the past few decades. In 2017, Intel stated that hyperscaling in computing power and architecture would continue the trend of Moore's law and offset the increased cadence by aggressively scaling beyond the typical doubling of transistors.

Therefore, in the VUCA world, the emergence of the digital leader is imperative, to manage the vortex of change and development. Three key qualities stand out as new digital leadership qualities:

Leverage the qualities of digital megatrends

The ability to fully comprehend, understand and apply the impact of digital megatrends is tantamount to a sailor looking through his navigation tools to plan and predict the future.

These megatrends include blockchain, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), cloud computing, drones, driverless vehicles, and more, and they have big impact on our everyday life. While many of these technologies are no longer new, but their applications are vast and venture into unexplored territories.

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The digital leader would need to possess the mindset, mental capability and foresight, to leverage on these technologies, creating new applications and solutions within his/her sphere of influence.

This could often result in the development of new and creative solutions and problem-solving instances. Coupled with the scalability of various technologies, the impact is far greater than expected.

Obsess over the connected customer

In today’s context, consumers have unparalleled choice. With the proliferation of information and cross-border transparencies across all commerce channels, the power has shifted from the business to the consumer. Therefore, customer loyalty is a challenge.

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The digital leader must possess the ability to emotionally connect with his/her customers, through hard and soft skills, by leveraging on the various technological tools available. Understanding and breaking down the entire customer journey into micro-steps, as well as evaluating and analysing all potential opportunities will enhance the customer experience and delivery process.

In short, the customer is at the centre of the business model, cutting across, people, processes, systems, and tools.

Adapt to different generations of employees

The entry of the newest generation into our workforce, Generation Z has elevated Millennials to the title of the more senior group, thus providing more groups of people to focus on. Yet, outdated management styles continue to stifle organisation integration, synthesis, and growth.

ALSO READ: The forgotten workforce generation

Some leaders in corporations are now managing teams across four generations of employees, i.e. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials (Gen Y), and Gen Z. Therefore, the versatility and agility in their leadership styles are far more relevant in context of these mixed workforce dynamics of the workforce.

Digital leaders evidently must possess the ability to adapt to different generations, through a unique blend of agility, dynamism, emotional connection, and character.

Francis Goh is the CEO of HehSed Consulting, which specialises in corporate strategy, innovation and leadership. Having served as the CEO of Mercer Singapore and Fujitsu Singapore previously, he has a track record of building high-performance teams and overachieving both revenue and profit targets.

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