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Why Digital Transformation Requires Effective Leadership Training

Technology has embedded itself into every aspect of modern life. For instance, cars are getting closer to the automated, self-driving promises of a sci-fi future. Let’s just hope we can avoid the disastrous consequences of half-baked product launches. In the workplace, technology has the same potential to be a benefit or a burden – it all depends on how it’s implemented. As workplaces undergo continued digital transformation to include more technology in new ways, effective direction (and consequently, leadership training) is critical to success.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the adoption of technology or digital processes aimed to enhance performance toward a specific business goal. The intent is for the new technology to manage and improve operations in ways that traditional analog processes can’t. It’s easy enough to fixate on the technological aspects, but digital transformation is both a mindset and a behavior shift. As such, any company is sure to feel a few growing pains, and any effective implementation will require some degree of corporate training.

Does Leadership Training Need to Change?

Change is intimidating, but, according to the 2018 State of Leadership Report from Harvard Business Publishing, organizations that say leadership development is critical to their success are 29 times more likely to have a successful digital transformation.

Why is this? Because confidence in new technology starts from the top down, and leadership buy-in is critical for any transformational change. Moreover, effective leadership training builds up the skills and awareness needed to effectively manage such a transition. It isn’t enough to weigh the pros and cons of technology in the workplace. Leaders need to develop skillsets to match the changes and understand exactly how they set the tone in the workplace.

A recent report found that leaders rated digital transformation as the number one concern for 2019. However, another study found that 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to reach their goal. This means that 70% of the time, resources, and money spent on digital transformation doesn’t adequately improve processes or performance. Our takeaway? Leaders understand the need for digital transformation and are investing resources to meet that need, but either the technology or the transition falls short.

Leadership Training May Be the Solution

Clearly, there’s some key component missing here.

The transitions that come with digital transformation often result in changes to job titles and descriptions, business practices, or workgroups. As employees navigate these changes, leaders will feel the pushback. So, competency in soft skills like conflict resolution, empathy, or listening will help leaders navigate the transition. Chances are that ongoing digital transformation will lead to changes in communication and collaboration as well. This is where the need for leadership training comes into play, as these soft skills may not be as natural to learn as the technical skills around adopting new technology.

An evolution of company culture usually accompanies digital transformation, and brand training is crucial to reinforce and revise. Even if the core values of the company haven’t changed, it’s important to emphasize what things will stay the same. Either way, leadership is where brand begins. This is a critical time to model and reiterate company values.

E-Learning is the Way to Get There

Corporate training constantly undergoes digital transformation. The old ways of training, often instructor-led and lecture-heavy, have been replaced by digital tools to level-up learning. Just like your business practices would be sold short by relying on outdated methods, leadership should embrace training innovations.

E-learning is the perfect new training method to get leadership and employees onboard with digital transformation. Why? Because e-learning can train toward both behavior changes and technology changes. Simulations can allow learners to practice new technology without the consequences of real-world mistakes. Interactive videos could facilitate soft skills practice by dramatizing interactions between employees and leaders. Micro-learning breaks up difficult concepts, like new software or mindset shifts, into bite-sized chunks. Hosting training in online platforms allows leadership to track their progress in learning, which provides data they can use to refocus training or emphasize areas of weakness.

Like any new piece of technology, its effectiveness depends on how we implement it. We risk being a statistic of failed implementation if we don’t take the training around digital transformation seriously. By embracing innovations in learning, leaders increase the chances that their digital transformation will be a success.