Want great digital leaders in your organization? Look for these traits

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Enterprise leaders spend a lot of time trying to determine which technologies will best enable digital transformation. Likewise, they give a lot of thought to the types of skills employees need now and in the future to help their organizations meet strategic business objectives, often devoting considerable time and expense to recruiting and/or training.

But what about the leaders themselves? What are the characteristics and traits enterprise decision-makers need to succeed as leaders in the digital age? Turns out a lot of people have worked up lists of traits possessed by effective leaders. I’ve put together a few links below, along with some of the items from each respective list.

RealLeaders Editor Grant Schreiber went to town on his list, identifying 30 characteristics of future leaders. Schreiber’s got some great ones in there, but I’ll list just a few. Effective leaders, he writes:

  • Are enthusiastic and passionate
  • Eagerly embrace the responsibilities of leadership
  • Serve as role models
  • Demonstrate personal and professional integrity

Fast Company contributor Manny Padda focuses on five “surprising traits of great leaders.” Padda says the best leaders:

  • Are relatable and empathetic
  • Can attract and retain talent around them
  • Won’t shy away from taking the blame, and won’t take undue credit

A study of 300,000 leaders resulted in a list of 10 top traits for success. As Inc. contributor Peter Economy reports, those characteristics include:

  • Excellent analytical and above-average people skills
  • Effective communication in person and across platforms
  • A willingness and ability to build relationships
  • The ability to identify and develop talent

Finally, a study on the workplace of 2025 by recruitment company randstad shows that 95% of organizations surveyed agreed that “a different, new type of leadership is required to effectively address changes in organizational structures and operating models due to digitalization.” Topping the list of traits that define digital leaders of the future are:

  • Having the ability to keep people connected and engaged
  • Being agile and digitally savvy in the use of digital tools to drive business
    success
  • Driving a culture of innovation, learning and continuous improvement
  • Being adept at risk-taking

So what can we conclude from these lists of desirable leadership traits? The thing that jumps out at me is the emphasis on soft skills. Yes, leaders must be technologically aware and proficient, agile, analytical, and strategic. But more than anything they must be able to inspire, communicate effectively, and serve as role models and mentors.

I’d say that’s about right.

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  1. […] many articles that focus on required (new) skills/traits/attitudes. And there are many lists available: some […]

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