Digital Marketing, Digital Marketing Skills

The Digital Leadership Skills Gap: What it is and What to do about it

Bottom Shape

Allison Chaney

Aug 16 2019

A recent study from PWC showed that while most companies claim to be “digital” their investments, behavior, and leadership don’t consistently demonstrate that digital is a priority.

  • 64% say their business faces a threat from digital disruption
  • Most lack a strategic focus on training
  • Most don’t believe that their leadership is digital-savvy enough

While all of these stats are alarming, the digital skills gap among leadership is very surprising. Only 41% think that their leadership is digitally savvy and helps the workforce think in a new way.

What is the Leadership Digital Skills Gap?

The leadership digital skills gap is the gap that exists between the skills needed for success and the skills demonstrated by leaders. The reality is that most business leaders didn’t grow up in a digital world. They didn’t have to deal with the speed or level of disruption that exists today.

While most businesses are impacted by digital disruption, few business leaders have the skills and knowledge needed to address this.

How to Close the Leadership Skills Gap

The PWC study also showed that leaders don’t have a strategic focus on training or skills development. Most of the businesses in the study said they lack a strategic focus on training.

The world is moving more quickly. Digital is evolving faster than ever. Consumers are evolving quickly. Business leaders need to rethink their priorities to thrive in the new reality.

How can businesses overcome the skills gap:

  1. Make Training a Strategic Priority: Make sure that training and capability development are a strategic priority for the organization and lead by example.
  2. Walk the Walk with Leadership Programs: Right or wrong, most employees don’t think that their leadership has the skills needed to address digital disruption. Executive and leadership training and coaching programs can address this challenge by making leaders more digitally savvy themselves.
  3. Build a Culture of Curiosity: The world is changing quickly, and smart business professionals are curious, interested and wanting to learn more. Build a learning culture based on curiosity, ideas, and knowledge sharing.
  4. Bring Digital into the Strategy and Conversation: Many of the executives we’ve consulted with don’t make digital a part of the strategy or conversation. Digital is an ingrained part of how consumers, customers, and businesses behave. It isn’t a separate department. To lead in digital it should become an integrated part of your strategy and conversations – not a separate silo.
  5. Don’t Believe the Hype, Believe Your Strategy: Many business executives and leaders are sold all sorts of digital visions, strategies, and ideas from inside and outside of the organization. The reality is that digital isn’t an answer itself – it should be supporting your strategy. Digital is an accelerator but it must be used strategically to drive impact. Technology should never come first – the business strategy should.

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