Digital transformation is changing the way businesses develop and sell products or services, which means organizations must rethink their leadership talent to stay ahead of the curve. It’s no longer enough for leaders to rely on traditional structures and practices — they must be equipped with the skills necessary to drive digital transformation within their organization. 

A recent HR Times article highlighted the need for “digital leaders” capable of leading transformation, noting that many traditional hierarchies have been reshaped around networks of teams to stimulate faster, more responsive, and agile ways of working. Poor leadership can lead to employee burnout, which has serious repercussions for any organization. 

IT leaders today must possess certain skills to successfully navigate the workplace’s digital transformation. This article will discuss 8 skills that will help your leaders succeed in this new landscape. We’ll see why and how these skills are essential for driving digital transformation. 

1. Leading change with vision 

Group of People Having A Meeting

A vision, defined as a “clear, vivid mental picture of what you aspire to create or achieve” provides clarity and focus for leading change. Having a vision can help leaders identify opportunities, prioritize resources, and avoid pitfalls while confidently stepping into the unknown. 

A successful IT leader needs to have an understanding of the current competitive landscape and be able to anticipate future trends and shifts in order to steer their organization in the right direction. It’s not enough to just be reactive– Leaders need to be proactive, and able to formulate a strategy that looks ahead and sets a course for change. In his book Leading Change, author John P. Kotter outlines an 8-step process for implementing successful change:

  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency  
  2. Creating the Guiding Coalition  
  3. Developing a Vision and Strategy  
  4. Communicating the Change Vision  
  5. Empowering Others to Act on the Vision  
  6. Generating Short-Term Wins  
  7. Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change  
  8. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

Leaders need to be able to articulate their vision for change, inspire others to follow them, and then stay focused on accomplishing that vision. They must learn how to manage the resistance they will inevitably encounter and understand that successful change is never a one-time event– it is an ongoing process. In other words, successful leaders lead with vision and take a long view of change.

Ultimately, creating a growth mindset in your organization’s culture will require a combination of all three approaches– learning opportunities for employees, creating a vision for change, and inspiring others to follow that vision. When leaders demonstrate their commitment to continual learning and growth, they will be better equipped to lead successful change initiatives and set their organizations up for long-term success. 

2. Prioritizing communication and influence 

Without effective communication, digital transformation can’t take hold. This is why cultivating the ability to communicate clearly and build relationships with key stakeholders is essential for any leader leading a digital initiative. Learning how to influence people without direct authority also helps leaders be more persuasive in their communication and build a network of allies who are invested in the success of their initiatives.  

Digital transformation also requires being able to stay on top of the latest industry trends and apply them in real-time. Leaders must be prepared to think outside the box and embrace change as part of their culture. 

The HR Dive study has highlighted the importance of clear communication when it comes to staving off employee burnout. Furthermore, according to an article published by UDEMY, EY research revealed that 87% of IT leaders who are ready for digital transformation made a point of highlighting their vision and direction, as opposed to 72% of other CIOs. Moreover, 90% of digitally ready CIOs emphasized the importance of communication and influence in their role, compared to 79% of others. Given those corporate goals can change quickly, and due to the presence of distributed team structures, it is increasingly difficult for leaders to both communicate their vision and influence others in the organization. Therefore, effective communication is paramount for successful management in today’s digital world.  


Your brand’s story is the common thread that binds together business and technical visions, making them easier to realize. To connect the two more effectively, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the problem your company is trying to solve, who the stakeholders are, and how you plan to communicate your solution. Establishing a consistent narrative that outlines these elements allows for better alignment between business and tech teams for ongoing success.  

One way to incorporate storytelling into change initiatives is by focusing on the customer. Showcasing how customers are benefiting from your product or service reinforces why you’re doing what you’re doing and helps motivate employees to stay engaged with the initiative. Through storytelling, leaders can also make sure everyone understands their role in supporting the company’s mission.

Using methods such as data visualization, gamification, and animation can also be helpful in getting the message across. Visual tools make it easier for everyone to grasp the complexity of a situation quickly and can help drive home key points more effectively. In addition, visual storytelling will often capture people’s attention more than traditional methods.

4.Fostering agile strategies and processes

Agile is a project management approach that values collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability in order to quickly develop and deliver high-quality products. It’s based on the philosophy that teams should be able to respond to change quickly and efficiently, as well as quickly adjust their strategies based on customer feedback. Agile methods emphasize collaboration between team members and cross-functional teams, with the goal of producing better products and services.

For a successful agile business, it’s important for leaders to focus on creating an environment that encourages collaboration, continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation. This means setting up processes to ensure team members are in constant communication and can easily adjust their strategy or pivot if needed. It also means providing resources and training to help employees develop the skills they need to stay agile, such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking.

“Zappos’ Tony Hsieh Delivers Happiness Through Service and Innovation” 

For example, Zappos, an online retailer has implemented a policy called “Delivering Happiness” which focuses on employee satisfaction, customer experience, and agile operations. This policy encourages employees to share ideas and solve problems together by creating cross-functional teams made up of members from different departments. These teams work together to quickly develop solutions that meet customer needs. It also emphasizes continual learning and encourages employees to take risks and experiment with new ideas. With this policy, Zappos has been able to create an agile environment which has helped them stay ahead of competitors. 

Leaders can also set up processes such as regularly scheduled retrospectives or regular check-ins to ensure that teams are continuously adapting, learning, and improving. These processes provide an opportunity for team members to reflect, assess their progress, and identify areas of improvement. By regularly reviewing projects, teams can quickly adjust their strategies as needed in order to stay agile and deliver the best results.

5.Developing a culture of experimentation

Experimentation is a method of learning through trial and error, and it encourages teams to take risks and generate new ideas. It also encourages them to think outside the box, challenge assumptions, and come up with creative solutions to complex problems. 

Eventually, companies can test out these new ideas, identify which ones work best, and adjust their strategies accordingly. To foster a culture of experimentation, leaders must create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and proposing new ideas. This can be done by setting up processes that encourage experimentation, such as hackathons, brainstorming sessions, and design sprints.  

This type of process also means creating systems that allow for feedback loops and iteration, as well as providing resources such as training on problem-solving and critical thinking so employees can gain the skills needed to experiment effectively. Leaders should also encourage transparency around data collection so teams can quickly understand what’s working and what needs improvement. 

When people are intrinsically motivated, they’re more creative and productive. It’s important to ensure people are empowered to take risks on new ideas, that failure isn’t punished but a learning opportunity and that data is used to drive decisions.

6.Encouraging collaboration across departments

As business units become more specialized and teams become increasingly dynamic, it can be difficult for different departments and areas of expertise to come together and cooperate. However, fostering collaboration is essential for organizations to create innovative products, solve complex problems and remain competitive.  

To encourage collaboration across departments, leaders can set up regular meetings between departments or cross-functional teams to discuss ideas or projects in progress. They can also model a collaborative mindset by actively listening to different ideas, remaining open to feedback from colleagues, and encouraging employees to learn from one another.

7.Developing critical problem-solving capabilities

Problems will inevitably arise in any business, and having the ability to identify and solve them quickly is essential for success. In order to foster a culture of innovation, IT leaders must ensure that employees are equipped with the right capabilities to effectively solve problems. This means providing training on problem-solving techniques such as the 5 Whys or Root Cause Analysis and resources such as data analysis tools or brainstorming software.

5 WHYs definition 

The 5 Whys is an iterative questioning technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The objective is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” each time a satisfactory answer is given.  

Here is an example of applying the 5 Whys. 

Problem: Employees are not spending enough time on customer service. 

  1. Why? Because they don’t have the right tools to do their job efficiently. 
  2. Why? Because the current software is outdated and slow to use.  
  3. Why? Because it hasn’t been updated in years and can’t handle modern customer requests.  
  4. Why? Because IT hasn’t allocated enough resources to update the software. 
  5. Why? Because senior leadership hasn’t prioritized investing in customer service technology.  

Conclusion: Senior leadership needs to prioritize investing in customer service technology in order to improve employee efficiency and productivity when it comes to customer service.

In brief, IT leaders need to establish processes for teams to use when tackling problems. These processes should include structured brainstorming, root cause analysis, and data-driven decision-making. For example, companies like Amazon use the “Six Sigma” methodology, which is a structured problem-solving process. Amazon also encourages teams to use “Kaizen”, a continuous improvement process that involves observing problems and developing solutions. =

What is Six Sigma and how to implement it? 

Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that is focused on reducing defects, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing efficiency. It works by breaking down problems into their root causes, then creating a plan to address them. The key elements of Six Sigma are: 

  1. Define the problem: Identify and define the problem you want to solve in as much detail as possible. 
  2. Measure the current process: Collect data to measure how well your current process is working. 
  3. Analyze the data: Use statistical methods to analyze the data and find potential root causes for problems. 
  4. Improve the process: Develop solutions that address the root cause of the problem and make improvements to processes, products, or services. 
  5. Control the new process: Monitor and control the improved process to ensure its effective and produces desired results. 

Amazon’s Six Sigma approach has helped them reduce defects and increase efficiency, resulting in better customer satisfaction. To implement this methodology, organizations need to invest in training their teams, establishing processes to ensure the methodology is followed correctly and providing ongoing support. 

8.Developing a data-driven mindset:  

Data-driven mindset is when leaders use data to make decisions. This includes collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sources, including customer feedback, industry trends, internal analytics, and more. By leveraging this data, companies can gain insights into customer needs, identify areas of improvement and develop strategies for success.  

In order to establish a culture of innovation that is supported by data-driven decision-making, organizations need to cultivate a data-first mindset. This includes investing in data-focused tools and systems that can help uncover insights, training staff on how to interpret this data, and rewarding employees for taking actionable steps based on the information they uncover.  

Leaders should start by building a data infrastructure that allows teams to quickly access relevant information when needed. They should provide training on how to use data analysis tools and software, so employees understand how to interpret the numbers. Also, they should create incentives for teams to share insights gained from their analysis with other departments or stakeholders, and drive decisions based on data rather than gut feelings. 

Developing and cultivating the team to use, interpret and analyze data can be one of the greatest assets a company has, and it should be used to the fullest.


 Cultivating strong leadership skills will open new possibilities. 

IT leaders must assess their current IT infrastructure and identify what needs to be updated or replaced in order to improve cost efficiencies, adaptability, scalability, and reliability. They should also consider the security implications of any new technology implementation, as well as the impact on existing employees and processes. 

 It is also important for companies to invest in training programs and strategies to maintain a skilled workforce that can drive innovation and optimize their IT investments. With the right strategy, the right technology, and the right people, organizations can transform their IT infrastructure and remain competitive in today’s digital economy.