Can you help your organisation make the leap from the social intranet to the digital workplace? The job of the digital workplace leader is to inspire and motivate, with the critical capabilities to align business goals with digital transformation and propose a value proposition that delivers engagement across the organisation.
Where a manager is expected to plan, coordinate, and organise, a digital leader is disruptive, innovative, and demonstrates a clear vision for the future of the digital workplace.
How can you be a good digital leader?
Do you focus on employee experience in the browser or beyond the browser? It’s a critical difference between managing expectations within the workplace and developing a digital workplace strategy that move beyond software and hardware to deliver wider opportunities for creativity and collaboration.
As a leader, you seek to unify offline and online experiences. You understand how to apply user experience across the whole of the digital workplace so it remains user-focused, not systems-focused. You apply metrics that deliver positive impacts on workforce productivity and agility and you keep a broader focus on HR, IT, and business tools and the wider user experience across locations, apps, and devices.
The essential principles of leadership
Yet how do you demonstrate your digital leadership attributes across the organisation? According to digital workplace analysts, there are five critical principles that any digital workplace leader will display:
• Be present: future digital leaders need to cultivate their presence across all digital spaces and create visibility for the connected workforce.
• Understand your workforce: a leadership role in the digital workplace reaches beyond the firewall to engage with third parties like freelancers and company partners.
• Let go of management: traditional management tasks are now streamlined and handled by AI-powered digital assistants leaving the focus on leadership skills.
• Lead by persuasion: while you need focus and vision to deliver strategic goals, you’ll learn to lead through discussion, persuasion, and shared decision making.
• Be authentic: always communicate clearly and in your own voice. You may use a digital workplace but more than ever your interactions need to be human.
Embedding cultural change
How does a digital leader shift these critical traits into their organisation, to embed the cultural changes that are required for new styles of digital leadership to function effectively? By leading change management you can anticipate problems and mitigate issues before they escalate.
Move beyond being a bridge between IT and business needs by focusing on deeper and more complex technological solutions that ultimately deliver a seamless user experience. Work with senior management to broaden understanding of digital opportunities and encourage a deeper and more meaningful engagement through digital workplace technologies.
No matter where an employee sits in your business hierarchy, the digital workplace gives them the opportunity to contribute ideas on best practice and more efficient processes. How can you best use the digital workplace to respond, embrace, and grow by re-engineering work processes to encourage greater productivity? How can you link activities and experiences through digital workplace technology to automate routine tasks and free up creativity?
Focus on software that delivers a consumerised experience, but locate it within the bigger picture of the wider organisation. Use machine learning to your advantage to deliver those beyond the browser experiences seamlessly. Use contextualised data for informed decision making and smart search that replicates the ease of real-world technology use.
Inter-generational leadership skills
Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before with baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z all vying for attention in the digital workplace. Therefore, digital literacy is also more valuable than ever before, allowing you to deliver your digital vision to every generation in their own language and using their preferred medium.
Invest time and effort in your digital literacy – for example, encourage reverse mentoring to achieve data capture from baby boomers and skills transfers from millennials. Walk the walk and talk the talk across your digital workplace and be adaptable to new technologies and their implementation in your digital workplace. Develop a higher tolerance to risk and allow technology to be disruptive in order to let innovation thrive and drive your organisation forward.
The boundaries in the digital workplace are blurring, which makes strong and innovative leadership more valuable than ever before. With unprecedented connectivity at all levels of your organisation, it’s never been more important to use self-awareness and reflection to review your leadership approach and how it impacts across the organisation. Your work practices carry expectations that you should be capable of managing quickly and should be sensitive to difference across the organisation.
Ultimately, digital leadership should look and feel accessible and generate trust with every interaction. With 2 billion jobs predicted to disappear globally by 2030, entirely new styles of leadership and communication will be critical to the new ways of digital working that are expected to emerge.