By Christien Winter

A focus on Digital-era Leadership

Global leadership has been under the spotlight lately as the findings of an extensive global study have been released. The 2018 GLOBAL LEADERSHIP FORECAST, produced by DDI (supported by The Conference Board and EY) surveyed 2,488 organisations and some 25,000 leaders. The report offers an insightful picture into the state of global leadership and provides evidence-based recommendations for organisations. More notably the report highlights a number of gold nuggets, including in the digital space, which is explored further below.

Digital-Era Leadership

Digital competence is already differentiating winners from losers. The over-arching finding is that organisations with digitally savvy leaders, the pioneers, are outperforming those organisations with less digitally capable leaders, the laggards.

In general, most organisations think they know this already, but to have a study of this magnitude illustrate this point emphasises that organisations really need to adopt digital into their business footprint. The report illustrates the need for organisations to:

-        lead with digitisation

-        understand the impact digital tech can have on firms

-        Explore and standardise new areas where tech will have an impact on the company; this was a weak area for leaders


In the study there was a direct correlation between digital competence and adoption, and financial performance. Again another compelling point. Another digital weakness was organisations’ lack of a 360 degree view – being able to look at issues and bring thinking together from different perspectives.

The report paid homage to the old adage of moving beyond ‘doing digital’ to ‘being digital’. This is a mindset change and adoption of amended vernacular. Another recommendation was to develop digital accelerator leadership emersion programmes. IT Managers need to be assigned with the responsibility and influence to be able to bed this down. New leaders require not only a digital mindset but the imagination and vision as to how technology can enable the organisation’s competitive position.

We all know the value of training and developing high potentials, such as leaders and senior executives.  Interestingly, only 36% of senior managers were receiving formal mentoring. In fact, formal mentoring from coaches outside the firm is the number one most desired form of leadership development from high-potential leaders, yet it is hardly offered; coming in as the 8th most common development tool.

Developing a coaching culture that involves mentoring has some clear benefits. Doing so can clearly benefit intergenerational offices, which are the norm these days. Moreover, having a mentoring culture leads to:

-       23% more critical roles can be filled immediately;

-       46% high leader quality;

-       20% lower turnover;

-       1.7x more capable of capturing organisational knowledge before it's lost.

This is compelling as it is the most highly desired experience by leaders, yet one of the most majorly under-utilised.

The latest Global Leadership Forecast contains a series of interesting findings and a wealth of information that is essential reading for anyone in a leadership position, or involved in organisational development and HR.

The report can be obtained from DDI’s website. If you would like to discuss the findings of the report, please get in touch.

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