Level Up Your Leadership for the Digital Age

By Gabriel Rodriguez, Director, Organizational & Talent Development, San Jacinto College

Gabriel Rodriguez, Director, Organizational & Talent Development, San Jacinto College

If you think about top companies with a reputation for service excellence, you will likely find signs that technology and data are being used to enhance the customer experience now more than ever before. The rise of mobile applications allows users to access information and communicate in ways that are changing the game for everyone.

As organizations look for new ways to compete in the digital age, many are finding that true innovation requires a fundamental shift in leadership thinking and organizational culture. It is no longer acceptable to view technology change as just another “system upgrade.”  Operational systems and processes that once ran independently of each other are now seen as part of a deeply integrated network that requires greater levels of cross-functional collaboration and transparency.

To stay relevant in today’s fast-paced market, organizations must rethink their basic assumptions and embark on a continuous process of aligning and realigning themselves to meet the ever-changing demands of their customers.

 Transformation. In the digital age, few things are exempt from its reach— and leadership is among them 

Winning in this digital future requires a new breed of leader. Agile, visionary influencers who anticipate future trends and see their organization as a holistic system of interrelated parts. Storytellers who can scan an unprecedented amount of data and spot patterns that are not readily apparent to others. Effective digital leaders must serve as organizational architects with the courage to navigate a future filled with uncertainty. Despite this deep sense of uncertainty, effective digital leaders are able to instill a sense of hope among their followers.

As technology is increasingly woven into daily life, interactive digital experiences have become the norm. A growing number of corporations have recognized this trend and are adjusting their strategies to adapt. We need look only to the massive growth of online gaming communities to know than most people want to be engaged with technology in a way that enables them to connect with others in a meaningful way. Many want to be able to track their progress in real time and they want to know their score so they can level up. Today’s leaders must also recognize this trend and adjust their approach.

Leading in the digital age requires leaders to think and act differently than they did in the past. The digital future is already transforming traditional practices and top-down organizational models. Traditional structures and categorical thinking are being replaced by distributed, open-source networks that involve customers at each stage of the process of value creation. Today, many industry leaders make it easy for customers to easily opt-in and to customize services to meet their specific needs.

Effective leaders also understand that community is key to success. Social trustis essential to create sustainable impact. With a constant barrage of information and messaging on social media, effective leaders must help others create clarity and prioritize value creation over all.

Many industries today are already facing this transformational shift. Rather than simply pushing their services to consumers, effective leaders understand that customers have the power to choose. Today, there is growing segment of customers who expect organizations to be able to create seamlessly curated digital experiences that are personalized, interactive, and anticipate their every need. To support this, the top-down system of 

Top Digital Experience Tech Companies

governance common in most traditional organizations has been replaced with agile teams who assemble around a specific project for a brief amount of time before disbanding.

While no one can predict the future, some things are becoming clearer. Anything that can be automated will be automated. Most knowledge workers will not only need to know how to work effectively with technology, but how to create value in a way that centers on the human experience.

The problem is that many institutions are still operating with an infrastructure that was designed for a different generation with a different set of values. Now more than ever, we are seeing a generational shift towards values like radical transparency and self-governance. The question for all of us remains: are we ready to level up?

“The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” –William Gibson

Welcome to the future.


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