Team leaders are key for driving change. If they want people to follow them through a digitalization, they need to consider what leadership skills their organization needs from them.
The changes as well as the opportunities and potentials that companies achieve in a digitalization process is one of the most discussed topics of our time. Especially with the restrictions from Covid-19, we got used to virtual collaboration. Digital solutions in the organization and in our daily work are part of everyday life. And yet this transformation process poses a challenge for many companies, as best practices for collaboration have to be found and established that are manageable for all parties involved. Ultimately, they deliver real added value for the daily business of a company. Achieving this goal is often in the hands of project, team or people managers, who are tasked with guiding employees through the change, with the goal of creating confidence and motivation, and ensuring the teams’ support and compliance. Whether digitalization efforts in a company are successful therefore depends heavily on the people skills of the leaders who drive the change.
What skills do leaders need?
Leaders originally had a more organizational and coordinating role, but this has been changing for some time now. Today, employees want to be actively supported in the use of new digital solutions. A range of digital tools has emerged that are in everyday use. A leader who can provide how-to videos for new tools or helps in virtual on-boardings, point out specific IT support, or even acts as a contact person is more likely to generate open-mindedness among employees for new tools.
On top of the functional and technical expertise expected of leaders, social skills help to build trustful relationships with their employees. Appreciating people’s efforts and contribution, will increases their willingness to adopt a digitalization. A regular call can be used to discuss concerns and suggestions for new practices, which should be documented and followed up. When new digital solutions are implemented, it is expected that adjustments will be needed in daily processes of exchange. Here, the employees themselves can provide helpful insights regarding their needs and demands. Sometimes a gracious “thank you” or “job well done” from a leader goes a long way and might even be more valuable than monetary compensation.
Since the switch to digital solutions, processes and working methods will most likely add a lot of new information, open communication within the team can bea valuable asset. Leaders can use regular alignments and email updates to share new decisions. Using a digital channel for this is of course beneficial for authenticity in this context. New channels can also be established, such as blogs or a group chat. It is better to communicate more actively than to risk that employees lack information which might jeopardize the transformation. Communicating successes as well as failures to the team is also important.
If people are doing well, the organization is usually also doing well. Considerate leaders show empathy, interest and attention towards their employees and provide space for feedback and criticism. A considerate leader allows feedback from his employees on their experience with the new digital processes and tools, suggestions for improvement, or simply their gut feeling. This is valued and reassuring.
Expanding People Skills to Drive Transformation
Flexibility, constant connecting and information sharing are added values that organizations can draw from digital ways of working. Reflecting on and expanding their people skills helps leaderes to implement the respective changes. The social component of an organization holds so much power and the potential a competent leader within digitalization initiatives presents should not be underestimated.