For Walking the Talk’s latest research into cultures for Digital and Artificial Intelligence, we interviewed numerous leaders from many industries across the world. We asked them what successful leaders of digital transformations looked like, how they behave and what made them special. We also asked whether these attributes were what would be needed for successful implementation of AI strategies. The leaders we spoke to were very aligned and based on their feedback, we identified three key attributes of successful leaders for Digital/AI.
1. The Digital/AI leader puts people at the centre
Successful Digital/AI leaders have understood that digital transformations are not so much about technology as they are about the business, the customers and employees. These leaders are able to articulate a clear vision and purpose, and they make people, customers and employees, at the centre of their approach. They have transitioned form a “command-and-control” to a mindset of trusting and serving people to help them be their best. Caring and listening are two of the behaviours they role model day-in, day-out. They are able to empower those who are closest to the customer to make the right decisions and flex as is needed to anticipate customer needs. They know that to create value for the end customer and the purpose, they need to put people at the centre.
2. The Digital/AI leader displays courage
Successful Digital/AI leaders do not shy away from accountability and having the difficult conversations; they are not afraid of showing vulnerability; they are bold and can know how to take calculated risks; they know that you cannot make progress without trying new things and learning all the time, so they have let go of their need to control and their fears of not knowing. Not only to they also go outside their comfort zone, but they also help others to do so.
3. The Digital/AI leader is connected
Probably the most important shift for Digital/AI leaders is the shift from silo-thinking to holistic thinking. They have a whole-or-organisation thinking that allows them to connect data, processes, customer, people and results beyond traditional boundaries. They do not pretend to be experts, but find the expertise where it is: customers, employees, machines. Their vision is clear, and they can flex along the way.
Successful Digital/AI leaders are able to connect and collaborate at all levels:
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