Why it is Critical for Leaders to Grow Their Digital Presence

Market pundits keep telling you that every business is a digital business. Digital is your future and the path to transform the business. When so much is at stake, shouldn’t be leaders growing their digital presence? Our latest whitepaper highlights that many business leaders are not on LinkedIn, and most of them are yet to open a Twitter account. Another report reveals that 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs do not have a social presence themselves. In Australia, a 2015 survey found four CEOs of the top 20 publicly listed companies have a Twitter account.

We call this attitude the “lack of time syndrome” as leaders feel they have more strategic tasks to fulfill than managing their tweets. “Digital thinking” must be injected into a company’s core, and that extends to the social media presence of the company’s leaders. However, the failure to fix or expand their digital presence will impact the future of their own role and business. The personal participation in the digital realm is the key to understanding the digital consumer’s state of mind and unlocking digital’s real value. Not a surprise that more than half of the companies surveyed for our report agreed that they do not have a clear, shared vision of digital transformation which is well-communicated and understood throughout the organization.

Leaders need not to become digital experts neither we are suggesting it. But, they need to take their ideas and transform them with the power of digital simply to jettison old habits and paradigms, with the goal of leading a digital-first company. It’s time to say goodbye to analog leadership. The biggest issue here is organizational complacency, resistance to change and an ability to recognize the urgent need to change. Senior leadership must stop asking their teams to just “fix the problem” and instead ask them to “fix their digital quotient.” By communicating the digital vision clearly, leaders can ensure the entire company is marching in one direction — building digital at the core of the business.

DBS Bank in Singapore has taken a different route to developing future-ready digital leaders. As part of its DBS MegaHackathon initiative, the bank’s employees are encouraged to create new apps, processes and prototypes by collaborating with relevant startups to tackle business and societal challenges. The organization has already changed the mindset of hundreds of business leaders throughout the bank, which aims to impart digital thinking to every DBS employee before the end of 2016.

So, what should be the first step? Improve the company-wide digital quotient? I think undertaking a digital leadership assessment across the organization, including the board and the CEO, to understand the current state of digital leadership, and act accordingly.

What’s your take on the digital presence of leaders? Is it essential for them grow their digital presence to win in the “digital-first” world?.