Digital, Data, Disruption and Dependency

Report investigates pressures on the D Suite

Executive search and leadership development specialists, Adastrum Consulting, has launched a new report exploring the lasting effects of disruption and the pandemic on leadership development, talent management and organisational culture. The D Suite: Digital, Data, Disruption and Dependency is the latest release from Adastrum Consulting’s successful white paper series, which examines the role of digital in the boardroom.

The speed of digital adoption to adapt to locked down working means transformation has become business as usual. The report underlines transformation does not simply mean system upgrades but new ways of working, as it is counterproductive to invest in technology without investing in the leaders to manage it or the workforce to use it. Research has found 63 per cent of workers do not believe they have the appropriate digital skills to fulfil new and emerging roles in their industry, compromising workforce resilience and future progress. Critically, the white paper highlights the digital and soft skills required for implementing new systems and processes and successfully managing change.

Key findings include:

Data literacy and digital intelligence (DQ) are core leadership competencies.

This ensures executives are armed with the knowledge and experience to competently make important decisions quickly and lead their organisation to success

Social and environmental responsibility are expected components of corporate culture. 

ESG agendas contribute to profits as well as recruitment and retention but there is more pressure for businesses to act. Value hypocrisy can damage reputation and profits, as seen in the wake of protests against racial and social injustice.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) and courage are invaluable for change management

Composure, resilience and focus are key to maintaining leadership credentials and purpose in times of uncertainty, quashing fear and instilling confidence. The pandemic has pushed mental health further up the corporate agenda than previous awareness events or royal ambassadors. Understanding and influencing others is critical to supporting staff wellbeing and empathetic communication is vital for good customer relations.

Create hybrid training and development programmes.

Without physically working side-by-side, skill gaps can be missed and development slips down the priority list, affecting performance, retention and happiness. Digital competency unlocks greater understanding for using different platforms to deliver effective training in remote and hybrid environments. Mentor programmes, especially for juniors and people at the start of their careers, are critical for engagement, wellbeing and progress.

“Even prior to the pandemic, our workplaces were constantly disrupted with digital advancement and innovation,” says Chris Underwood, managing director at Adastrum Consulting, “but the unpredictability and rapid rate of change has redefined the potential speed and form of future transformation. It has also further deepened our dependency on technology and we have almost reached the point where non-digital businesses cease to exist. At the forefront of organisational change, it is imperative that all leaders understand data and digital.

“Transformation is a never-ending journey, as businesses progress they will continue to incorporate the latest innovations and improve ways of working,” he says. “Without the leadership to make new systems and processes work and deliver against business objectives, outlay in innovation quickly becomes a source of future technical debt. Leaders who are ready to tackle new and unforeseen challenges head on are indispensable. For employers, recruiting, retaining and developing these leaders must be an important part of talent management, long-term digital strategy and business growth plans.”

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