If you run a business of any kind, the odds are that your organization has a digital transformation strategy. And the chances are that you’re experimenting with a variety of technologies, using new platforms, media and devices to reach your customers more effectively and streamline your business.
But the chances also are that your
company has paid less attention to the personal aspects of digital transformation. As more and more organizations get past the early stages of technology implementation, they are finding that
technology-enabled initiatives alone are not enough to fundamentally transform an organization.
To achieve true digital maturity, companies need to invest in the unique leadership capabilities needed to create digital transformation. And that begins right at the top: with a chief executive who has the vision and self-confidence to change his or her own mindset for the digital era. Such change has little to do with being an old-fashioned charismatic leader who pushes the troops to charge toward victory – rather, it means looking inward, embracing innovation, serving as a role model for others’ transformation and being willing to change course as needed.
Research shows that this type of CEO is most likely to have the personality traits and competencies needed for an organization to succeed in the digital era.
For example, a 2014 study on “career variety” that profiled the CEOs of Fortune 250 firms found that CEOs with experience in a range of functions and roles tend to develop more creative and innovative solutions than their lower variety counterparts.
“Adapting to new environments involves the acquisition of new information and skills, which, in combination with prior learning and experiences, can trigger creative solutions,”
the researchers report.
Similarly, a CEO’s willingness to innovate correlates with his or her long-term investment in research and development, according to another study that used a longitudinal sample of 100 US
manufacturing firms from 1998 to 2008.
Research has also found that even after as little as five years in office, chief executives who wish to continue being successful must indulge in soul-searching, asking
themselves how the company’s culture and competitive landscape have changed and whether the members of the senior
management team are pushing one
another to think creatively.