Executives must develop new leadership capabilities in order to successfully manage their organizations today and in the future, according to a new study.

The Workplace 2025: The Post-Digital Frontier study, from Randstad US, identifies several personal traits as well as five key leadership competencies required in the post-digital age. The study also found that nearly all companies (95%) believe new and different types of leadership are going to be required to effectively address changes in organizational structures and operating models due to digitization.

“Thanks to technology, organizational structures and operations are changing far more rapidly than they did in the past,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer, Randstad North America. “If organizations don’t have leaders in place with the digital prowess required to navigate this new reality, they’ll struggle. The best investment that companies can make in their future is to identify and cultivate individuals with strong digital skills and sharp instincts for what’s coming next, as they’ll drive innovation and keep their companies competitive.”

Based on responses from nearly 3,000 workers across the U.S., this new wave of leaders must:

  • have the ability to keep people connected and engaged (76%)
  • be more agile and digitally savvy (77%)
  • drive a culture of innovation, learning and continuous improvement (76%)
  • be adept at risk-taking (60%)

Building digital leaders

To assist organizations in identifying and developing digital leaders, Randstad partnered with talent assessment company XBInsight to gain more granular insight into building digital skills and developing forward-thinking leadership approaches. Based on competency and assessment data from 5,000 leaders across a wide range of industries, XBInsight identified five competencies where successful leaders have scored highest and that correlate closely with the requirements of digital leaders according to Randstad’s data. The five critical leadership traits needed to thrive in the post-digital workplace include:

  • inspiring others
  • leveraging technology
  • encouraging collaboration
  • driving innovation
  • managing risk

“The digital revolution has changed many jobs, added new ones, and of course, dramatically altered the leadership skills and behaviors needed to navigate the post-digital landscape,” says Kathi Graham-Leviss, CEO of XBInsight. “The ability to lead with an innovative mindset is at the core of what it takes to be a digital leader. The good news is innovation is a competency, and much like other competencies, it can be developed.”

The common thread among digitally successful companies

It’s clear that having a leader with strong digital skills at the helm is critical to any organization’s success. Unfortunately, however, more than half (63%) of all companies surveyed don’t believe they have a strong digital leader in place today. And the risks for organizations lacking digital leadership can be significant, including:

  • a lower likelihood that digital initiatives will meet their full potential in driving business success
  • an ineffective approach to digitization that is largely tactical in nature without a cohesive, company-wide strategy or focus
  • challenges in attracting and retaining top talent as a result of falling short of delivering the digital innovation and tools the majority of today’s workers desire


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