Research Digested: Leadership’s Digital Transformation: Leading Purposefully in an Era of Context Collapse

A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals

Why read this report

This report is one of many that look at how digital transformation is changing the way workforces operate and what leaders need to do about it. However, the main thrust of this report is that leaders shouldn’t just focus on business capabilities and opportunities. Employees want more from digital transformation – they want it to reflect and respect their concerns and values and make them feel more valued.

About this research

The research was carried out in the summer of 2020, with MIT Sloan Management Review and the professional services company Cognizant surveying 4,296 global leaders. They also interviewed 17 c-suite leaders, such as the CEOs of Starbucks and Delta Air Lines.

Standout stats

Section 2 of the report goes into some of the main findings. For example, 88% of respondents say that having a critical mass of digitally savvy leaders matters to their organisation’s ability to win in the future. Employees know that high performance organisations need digitally savvy leaders. But, employees also want their leaders to explicitly engage with the affective desires and values they bring to work. These desires and values include purpose and engagement and issues around fairness, inclusion and representation.

However, many employees think there is insufficient investment in the professional digital capabilities development of managers and leaders.

  • Less than half (48%) of respondents said their organisation creates project teams that are deliberately diverse in terms of digital savviness
  • Even fewer (31%) think their organisation actively monitors or assesses whether or not managers are improving their digital skills
  • Only 19% say their organisation is improving the digital nous of top management through reverse mentoring programmes. This is despite the fact that 71% of respondents think younger employees are better at getting value from digital assets

The report also finds that many employees are not convinced by their leaders’ professed commitment to purpose, with just 25% strongly agreeing that their organisation is as purpose-driven as their leaders state.

Final word

Another strong focus of the research is the idea of context collapse. What’s this? According to the report, digital is increasingly blurring the boundaries between work and home, between individual and institutional obligations and between shareholder stakeholder priorities, all of which have been further blurred by Covid-19. With this ‘context collapse’ leaders need to think hard about how they communicate with people, particularly employees. The successful leaders of today and the future need to be open and transparent and they need to display authentic behaviours.

Report reading time: 20 minutes

Media: PDF

Link:  Leadership’s Digital Transformation