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Strong digital leaders are very much in demand, as our digital business research clearly shows. We asked more than 4,300 global executives whether their organizations need to find new leaders to succeed in the digital age: 68% indicate that their organization does, in fact, need new leadership to compete. Even more striking, there is surprisingly little variance across maturity categories for these responses: 77% of respondents from early-stage companies report that they need new leaders, as do 55% of respondents from maturing companies. On the whole, more than half of digitally maturing companies still say they lack strong leadership.
Organizations shouldn’t simply lament the absence of genuine digital leadership, however; they must recognize that finding and developing the right talent is truly difficult. In a continually changing competitive environment, leaders constantly face new challenges and must adapt both the organization and their leadership style to this new environment. Successfully meeting these challenges requires new skills and capabilities that leaders have not needed in the past.
What Do Digital Leaders Look Like?
We asked executives what traits they wished leaders had more of to help their organizations navigate digital trends. Somewhat surprisingly, the traits cited were similar across maturity levels.
- Provide vision and purpose. This is the most desired digital leadership trait. Clear aspirations serve as a compass to guide employees as they work, especially in distributed environments where they often have greater decision-making autonomy. Yet, vision itself may not be sufficient; leaders must also provide opportunities to execute it.