What is digital leadership

Elephant rider.jpg

When thinking about digital leadership I was inspired by the book ‘Switch –How to change things when change is hard’ by Chip & Dan Heath.

They describe leadership through a metaphor of Rider, Elephant and the Path. In summary, the role of a leader (the Rider) is to motivate and build trust in others (the Elephant) to buy into the vision (the Path).

When this metaphor is applied to the world of digital communications, digital leadership is demonstrated by a Digital Leader who understands the digital ecosystem, can identify how Digital will contribute to an organisation’s strategy and builds trust and motivation amongst colleagues so together they make the digital vision a reality.

The role of a Digital Leader is a complex one as that individual needs to be able to work with, influence and integrate all functions of an organisation:

  • Brand
  • Communications & Marketing (content, creative and innovation)
  • Supporter management and development
  • Financial processing
  • IT
  • Supporter care
  • Data
  • Reporting
  • Programmes
  • Operations
  • Retail

… and any other function that an organisation might have.

As with any other area of an organisation’s work, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. It is however important to seek digital leadership amongst the talent already in the organisation – people who know the culture, processes and the issues an organisation works on. If no one is available, leadership needs to be brought in from outside of the organisation.

And it really is important that every organisation – big or small – develops digital leadership. That is the best way to ensure that Digital will deliver for the mission of the organisation and ready the organisation for the next generation of supporters.

Why we need digital leaders?