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Leadership in the Digital Age

Leadership in the Digital Economy

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Leadership in the Digital Economy

Leadership & Strategic Thinking for the Digital Economy

Leadership in the 21st century is asking for new skills. Other than the 3 traits needed to develop your leadership capability, there are more skills required today that are different from previous generations. Among which, the one that was deemed most important according to a Deloitte study, is the ability to lead through more complexity and ambiguity. With the current high speed of information flow and ongoing global revolution of digital mediums, they are pressuring leaders to adapt and transit towards the increasingly volatile and faster-paced business climate.


For many leaders, this can instigate uncertainty and apprehension when thinking about how to lead their organisation in today’s digital age. For organisations to succeed, leaders need to think, act and react differently.


  1. THINK differently

As a cognitive transformation, leaders have to conceptualize possibilities in a virtual world, handle ever-increasing cognitive complexity, think divergently about new ways of doing things and make decisions quickly without having all relevant information.

  1. ACT differently

As a behavioural transformation, leaders have to adapt to constantly shifting power and influence, collaborate with ease across many different teams, value the contribution of new work partners and different interest groups as well as invest energy into doing things right.

  1. REACT differently

As an emotional transformation, leaders have to tolerate an environment of risk and ambiguity, show resilience in the face of constant change, be brave in challenging how things are being done and have the confidence to take the lead in driving change.


Leadership is changing in the way that it is less focused on the art of leading but more about being able to response accordingly to the challenges that the digital age brings about. In 2007, according to a Global Human Capital Trends survey, only 5% of companies feel that they have strong digital leaders in place. This signifies the importance of prompt focus on digital management. By encouraging leaders to think, act and react differently as mentioned above, it will coax leaders to imagine the organisation in the digital future with the integration of innovative and competitive factors that are essential for the transformation in the digital age.


Given that leadership today involves a combination of traditional expectations and new competencies, here are some actions that can be done to focus on developing new leadership competencies:


  1. Focus on leaders as members of leadership teams

Rather than focusing on individual leaders and their personal performance, focusing on leaders as members of leadership teams will be able to motivate closeness of the team as a whole and push for more integrated solutions.

  1. Innovation

In addition to maintenance of operational efficiency and performance, it will be good to have innovation to improve operations and products/ services to sustain a competitive edge.

  1. Having a diverse workforce

Having a diverse workforce will inspires the acceptance of different employees’ demographics and appeal to the new expectations of today’s talent.


Many organisations today struggle to put leaders in place with the old and new business challenges. Yet, it is hard to simply hire new leaders. Leaders in the digital age need to be cultivated and integrated in your organisation’s culture. Hence, the ideal method will be to invest in potential leaders in your organisation – promote people into leadership roles every opportunity you have and give leaders with less traditional experience the opportunities to lead projects and new initiatives. Trust your leaders to rethink, challenge and develop the business they are in to accommodate the challenges in today’s digital age.


To learn more about the recent trends for business leaders, Deloitte Insights has published a report on Global Human Capital Trends. The report aims to guide HR and business leaders on cultivating the right leadership skills while working around the intensive combination of economic, social and political issues. The report offers a guide on how to lead an enterprise while covering the following components – future of the workforce, future of the organisation and future of HR.

Click below to download your free report
2019 Global Human Capital Trends

2019 Global Human Capital Trends


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