Why Digital transformation leadership should come from the bottom up

If you look at your organisation, where do you see the most innovation and leadership? Is it from the leaders at the top, or those lower down the hierarchy on the coalface who like to experiment? Or maybe it’s a collaboration between both parties? The perceived wisdom is that leadership comes from, well, our leaders. But leadership can take many different forms…

When it comes to digital transformation leadership specifically, we often find that this comes from the lower levels of the company, providing they are given the freedom from their leadership to do so. This makes sense when you think about it – since digital transformation requires a level of technical understanding and knowledge of processes that leadership is often distanced from.

For digital transformation to be successful, an organisation’s leadership needs to understand and appreciate this fact. Now is the time for them to be humble. They should take advice and guidance from those at the more technical end, because they are more likely to understand how transformation will improve the business and how it can be implemented. This is not the time for leadership to call rank and start dictating how transformation will come about.

I am not saying that management should step aside and relinquish its role in digital transformation entirely – management still has a huge role to play, often as the advocates and flag bearers for those who still need to be convinced of its value – but they need to trust their teams to deliver it and be comfortable taking a more supporting/enabling role. Instead of saying “this is the strategy, and this is how you do it” they should be saying “this is the strategy, so how should we do it?”

Where is the digital transformation leadership in your organisation?

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