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What makes a great digital leader?

What makes a great digital leader?

What makes a great leader? It’s that age old question that’s been deliberated about for centuries. We’ve been taught about some of the world’s greatest leaders throughout our entire education. From Napoleon to Lincoln, Churchill to Joan of Arc. They all have something. That je ne sais quoi that sets them apart, but what?

And as digital disruption and in turn, transformation becomes ever more engrained in everything we see and do, the question now on the lips of many global conglomerates is what is it that makes a great a digital leader?

As practice lead for Scotland’s IT recruitment business, I’ve asked myself this many times. I’ve asked my peers this same question. And as I do, the same responses seem to crop up time and time again.

The five key traits of a great digital leader


Whilst it’s true leaders of the corporate world are not completely risk averse, the dawn of the digital age has produced a whole new breed of risk takers. And not just someone who isn’t afraid to fail, but to a certain extent, welcomes it. Living by the mantra - the more you fail, the quicker you succeed. And succeed they do. As if they shied away from taking these leaps of faith, if they were too afraid to make the occasional blunder, then their desire to get ahead in the digitization of their business may never be realised. And that would be the biggest injustice of all.

Barrier blindness

As well as challenging the boundaries, or skirting round them completely - when it comes to implementing a new plan or process, digital leaders seem incapable, or at the very least reluctant, to see any potential barriers which could hinder their plans. For them, obstacles, which could easily put off the most experienced exec. team, will swiftly become shunned to the side. In fact, this is often as a direct result from their penchant for risk-taking. And an almost romantic yet somehow rationalized notion that nothing, no matter how inconceivable, should stand in their way. All in the name of digital progress.

Ask and you shall receive

Curiosity may have killed the cat but it can be the making of a great digital leader. Asking questions, searching for insights, being open to all possibilities enables them to not only identify problems, but seek to solve them through digital. And when they do. It can completely transform the many debilitated processes and procedures which still exist within a business. Recognising that even the smallest of changes, can revolutionise things for the better.

A need for speed

If there’s one thing a digital leader is never guilty of, it’s standing still. A mindset that thrives on innovation and consistently embraces the need for change. Unlike their more traditionalist counterpart who tends to opt for a much more considered approach, a digital leader is constantly adapting themselves and their practices, ensuring they remain one step ahead of the competition at all times.

Enthuse and excite

Throughout our careers, we’ve all experienced varying forms of leadership styles. While passion and positivity are qualities thankfully many senior executives do possess, when it comes to a digital leader - it’s without doubt one of the most crucial. To be a great digital leader they also take on the role as a mentor. Someone who naturally positions themselves as an influencer. And above all, their enthusiasm for digitalisation needs to be contagious. As if they’re not excited by the endless possibilities of digital - then why should anyone else in the business be.


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