As digital transformation continues to impact almost every industry, it’s never been more important for companies to focus on developing a new generation of digital leaders.
Despite this, independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half shows Hong Kong bosses are among the least confident globally they have the right leadership talent to navigate a digital future. According to the survey of CFOs and CIOs around the world, as many as one-quarter (25%) of Hong Kong bosses say they were either not confident or unsure their organisations have the right leadership team to implement digital change within their company.
Management support holding back Hong Kong leaders’ transformation efforts
The research by Robert Half highlights the four most significant reasons why Hong Kong bosses aren’t confident their organisations have the right leadership to implement digital change. Almost half (48%) say lack of management support or interest, followed by resistance to change (45%), lack of change management experience (36%) and lack of technical know-how (30%). The use of digital technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are expected to contribute around 60% to Hong Kong’s GDP by 2021. As digitisation accelerates across industries, companies that don’t focus on developing environments that nurture people’s digital leadership capabilities will risk getting left behind.
“There’s no doubt the ongoing skills shortage in technology remains a key challenge for companies looking to onboard talented digital leaders. Our research also shows companies should focus on breaking down any cultural barriers that might hamper Hong Kong’s new generation of leaders, such as change resistance or a lack of support or training,” says Elaine Lam, Associate Director of Robert Half.
Strong digital leaders are more than their technical skills
With disruption now the norm, companies must be able to continually adapt and change in order to embrace new opportunities, remain competitive and be successful. This demands a new mode of digital-first leadership that brings together technical expertise, change management experience, and an agile collaborative leadership style.
While there are prominent traits that are understood to underpin strong digital leadership for different job functions and industries, Robert Half research also suggests that different industries and job functions prioritise different skills and traits needed to lead an organisation into the digital future.
Amongst Hong Kong survey respondents, Hong Kong CIO and CFOs have similar concerns when it comes to ensuring digital success, with both picking out technical know-how (69% and 55% respectively) and change management experience (51% and 57%) in the top three key skills needed to lead IT departments. However, for CIOs, communications skills (55%) are also essential, while CFOs view the involvement of specialists in decision-making (55%) as more of a priority.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ profile of a digital leader. Strong digital leaders are not necessarily defined by their high-level technical skills or experience or background in an IT environment. Today’s digital leader must be able to navigate change and uncertainty as well as understand the wider impact of technology on their business and industry, which means there is significant fluidity in what it takes to be a strong digital leader,” saysElaine Lam.
“A digital leader must be able to nurture a technology-first workforce that can navigate digital transformation and develop innovative digital strategies right across their organisation. In this regard, digital leaders will need to build non-siloed working cultures that are also characterised by their collaboration, innovation, and openness. Strong digital leaders will also need to be able to communicate the opportunities presented by technology and the impact of innovative strategies in order to onboard the relevant stakeholders and implement change.”