Must-know digital leadership styles

The importance of digital transformation continues to be one of the most important priorities in organizations, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The benefits of implementing digital leadership styles have become clear.

Only organizations that fully embrace and commit to digital transformation can survive the disruption caused by the pandemic. Others have struggled and are working to bring their organizations digital transformation as quickly as possible.

What is Digital Leadership?

How are transformation initiatives implemented in organizations? How are digital priorities introduced and maintained? How are digital operations integrated with different departments and projects of an organization?

The answer is quite simple — a digital leader ensures that digitization continues to help businesses succeed and maintain a competitive edge. Effective digital leadership styles often distinguish a successful digital (and cultural) transformation from an unsuccessful one.

The importance of digital leaders is growing like never before in organizations.

An Aon index study found that 64% of organizations have placed digital leaders in key roles to ensure a successful digital transformation. But what exactly is leadership, and what does it entail? Let’s dive in.

Management style of digital leader

A completely new management style, digital leadershiprefers to promoting ingenuity, agility, and responsiveness in an organization devoted to all things digital.

Digital leadership is about successfully taking control of all digital transformations large and small in an organization, which in today’s world can easily be compared to being responsible for driving drive the organization towards sustainable success.

A digital leader is not necessarily tied to a department, degree, role, or hierarchy. More than anything, here are three must-haves in any agile leader:


Executing an organization-wide digital transformation and taking it down a path of sustainable agility isn’t for everyone. Digital leaders are required to dream big, communicate their vision, and then demonstrate the courage to stick to the vision despite facing opposition and obstacles along the way.

Digital transformation requires getting employees out of their comfort zones and preparing them to face and adapt to disruption as flexibly as possible. Therefore, the right digital champion needs to lead by example and display endless courage to make this a reality.


Digital leaders need to have the right mix of soft and technical skills, which falls into the latter category. Digital leaders, in addition to an education degree or certificate, need to have a track record of demonstrating a digital-first approach and have leadership experience.

This has little to do with their hierarchy as well as their thinking and priorities. Mastering design thinking, agility, and innovation sets digital leaders apart.


A digital leader can command the organization in its direction and inspire others. Therefore, they need high credibility and charisma that attracts attention and respect.

They also need to maintain friendly relations with the people around them, which requires them to have a strong character and a certain degree of likability.

What are the must-haves for digital leadership?

These are certainly must-haves for any digital leader, but what are the different leadership styles for a digital leader? Is there a particular context or period where these styles work better? Let’s find out together.

commanding leadership

A style that seems to contradict the concept of agility, this leadership style restricts autonomy and requires following instructions without delay. People are expected to do what is asked of them without any explanation of their own. Such a digital leadership style should be reserved for crises and emergencies only.

In a digital context, such a situation could involve data safety and security, mandatory compliance with digital protocols, or the rapid adoption of certain technologies due to a crisis. Such a style is incompatible with an agile and innovative business culture. It should be reserved for emergencies only.

democratic leadership

In stark contrast to command leadership, autonomy, cooperation, and innovation are accepted and encouraged here. Instead of a top-down approach, team input and a bottom-up approach foster this culture.

This style works best for finding solutions to identified problems, securing support from multiple stakeholders, and making decisions. A democratic digital leader has an open mind, facilitates healthy discussions, and converges ideas to reach effective solutions.

leader sets the pace

This type of leadership operates in a performance-oriented environment where results are everything. Environments like these are common in startups that promote a “hustle” culture, where employees are only retained if they deliver on their goals impressively.

This type of digital leadership style, which can work when working on an important project or preparing an organization for a funding round, is not sustainable in the long run. The digital leadership and his followers will eventually face burnout, which will be detrimental to digital transformation.

leadership training

Not everyone in an organization is equally comfortable with technology. Some may even face insecurity because of a change in the way they work or their roles are reduced in importance due to digital disruption.

It is the responsibility of a digital leader to communicate to people how digital adoption not only helps organizations, but also helps them enhance their skill sets and prepare them for the current workplace. grand. In such a scenario, coaching leadership is extremely important.

Such a digital leader communicates how people can align their personal growth with the organization’s digital transformation, while empowering and training them to overcome change.

Leaders have a vision

As mentioned earlier, digital leaders must have the courage to dream big and envision a future that those comfortable with the status quo cannot do. This requires a true visionary who can stay true to their vision despite facing challenges and criticism from skeptics. This type of leadership ensures that everyone is able to see the vision and make them part of the effort to execute it.

As we can see, digital transformation has as much to do with the people who lead it as it has with the technology itself. Since this is an ongoing activity, organizations require strong digital leaders to keep people motivated and keep employees ready to face any technical disruptions. Which numbers come their way.

Digital leaders must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and understand the leadership style they need to exercise, depending on the situation.


A strong mark on any effective digital leader is keeping an eye on the technology and platforms that enable and support digital transformation.

Efforts must be made to ensure that technology trends are tracked and applied within the organization.

To adopt, digital leaders will create a network that protects training, learning, and testing for employees and their adoption of new technology.

Featured image credit: Photo by Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thank you!

Vivek Goel

Vivek Goel

Over 19 years of leadership experience in IT companies of all sizes, from startups to large organizations in India and the US. Strategic and operational expertise across functions such as Sales and Business Development, Human Resources, Process and Quality, Project Management and Product Development.


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