Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

Traits That Make A Great Digital Leader

Traits That Make A Great Digital LeaderAs the eCommerce market continues to grow in the United States and continues to take over the traditional brick and mortar stores, the need for digital leaders is important. However, the digital economy is a frontier that needs to be groomed and tamed still for the average company. In a report created by MIT and Deloitte called Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future, they say that 44% of organizations are not prepared for the new digital issues that are going to arise in their future. But what does that even mean for your company? Preparing for the digital future is not a rudimentary task, but an overarching task that encompasses your company’s ethos, activities, people, culture, and structure of operations. Despite so many changes that are on the horizon for the average company in America almost 90% of organizations have stated that they have attempted to upgrade their companies digitally. Whether those decisions come from the big corporate overhead structure or from the small office down the hall there has to be digital leaders that are bringing those to changes to fruition. There are many traits that distinguish a digital leader in being able to take the lead in a company.

They Hire Digital Natives
One of the most important traits to possess is talent attraction strategies that will bring new foreword thinking individuals to an organization. Making sure that they are developing the talent in their office to match the development from the overall tech industry. They will be able to be encouraging to the other members of that staff and will collaborate to bring new digital methods to the employees. Also, surrounding yourself with smart individuals is always a recipe for success.

Digital Strategy
Having a digital strategy for the company that you are working for is the bread and butter to having a digitally forward thinking company. Making sure to have a positive digital footprint should be the number one concern for your digital leader. That involves making sure the customer experience is up to par with other digital companies that are already established online. Having constant engagement with your clients online will show that there is a digital proof that you are taking care of your customers and open to facilitating dialogue with the constant needs of your customer base. Being proactive in your online strategy is a valid method to creating a positive social proof of your company. Set the tone for your customer experience to be constructive, easy to distinguish, and contains a history of positive reviews.

Distinctive Branding
A digital leader will consider all types of factors when they are creating distinctive branding for their company online. They will understand that a brand’s very existence is key with the branding and marketing they put out in the online world. Keeping in mind that all marketing and branding is reflective of the values, opinions, and beliefs that come from the company. It must be considerate of all types of individuals stemming from all backgrounds in order to cast the widest possible net for the largest possible customer base. Remembering that each company does have a certain set of values that they might find important to be a part of or represent. The famous sentence “All publicity is good publicity” doesn’t always ring true for the Internet as many campaigns can spread like wildfire if they are not properly handled and executed.

Have a Vision
All the famous visionaries that have created some of the top marketing campaigns and business successes always had a clear vision for where their company wanted to go. Unclear visions of the future always end up in a fog of not well thought out scenarios and situations that are not positive for a company’s long term goals. Remembering what your digital strategy can uniquely contribute to the companies over all well-being is important to consider in any major decision. With a guiding vision your company’s online strategy can become more than just a platform but a community of supporters who are all engaged with your product or vision. It is important to be the company that is collaborating with others, influencing, and educating their online audience. The possibilities are endless in terms of “being the change you want to see” with your company’s online strategy.

Data is their Friend
Digital data is one of the most useful tools that any digital leader will have in their toolbox. Using the latest innovations in the technology industry to view data from different channels and sources online is important to being successful online. Understanding who your demographics are and what they experience while using your website is important. Data can support you with information on how to make your digital strategy better and more successful.

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How Leaders Maintain Confidence During Uncertainty

How Leaders Maintain Confidence During UncertaintyAgility...patience...poise...unwavering strength...these are all qualities displayed by true leaders in times of uncertainty. There are many things that can contribute to uncertainty, from increased marketplace demands to competitive factors. Leaders must display confidence to minimize the impact of uncertainty; indeed, how leaders respond to growing pressures directly speaks to their leadership preparedness, maturity and acumen, according to Forbes.

This composure can be seen not just in what leaders say but how they carry themselves. From attitude to body language, leadership in its most basic form is all about making colleagues feel safe and secure and not just about helping them increase their performance and effectiveness. Employees are sick of running on empty, trying to get ahead just to survive the jungle that is the workplace. They want to know they have a place in that workplace with a leader who will ensure their job security in tumultuous times. No one can do their best job during the day when they're constantly looking over their shoulders and fearing for their jobs.

Avoiding Crisis Mode

Too many CIOs and other leaders are thrown for a loop when difficult situations are presented to them. While they may have all the credentials and experience in the world, some simply can't handle the pressure of maintaining composure during times of crisis and change. This leads to ineffective leadership because those individuals can't adapt to the unexpected. A true leader can stand above the chaos, see it as a chance for opportunity, maintain composure, and overcome that adversity. They can see beyond the present, institute change, and see it through to the other side. Instead of panic, there is calm.

This doesn't mean the leader is a push-over. This doesn't mean he or she is lacking in temerity, steadfastness and grit. It means the leader pushes through the noise, sees it for what it is, and institutes a clear objective without backing down. There's no doubt that uncertain times can test the mettle of even the strongest of companies. This is precisely when solid leaders must act in a decisive manner, setting an example that all can follow with confidence.


Tips for the Confident Leader

1. Keep emotions at bay: Wearing your heart on your sleeve may be good in love and romance, but it has no place at work in positions of leadership. Good leaders don't let their emotions get the best of them; they don't yell, panic, stress out, or cast blame. They keep their feelings in check, push through and channel that passion into a positive outlet of energy: solving the problem at hand quickly and efficiently. Expending all that emotional energy wastes opportunity and only tires you out for the real task.

2. Don't get defensive: It's natural for people to take things personally in the work place when things don't go their way, assuming the unfair reality of office politics is the culprit. But while office politics does exist, the true leader doesn't take a defensive stance; rather he takes a proactive stance. It's a simple reality that business decisions won't always go your way. That's part of living in a society. How you maintain composure and move on during those times of seeming unfairness will make all the difference. We all know people in our professional and personal lives who figuratively stomp their feet and say "that's not fair!" every time they don't get their way. Strong leaders don't waste time on taking things personally.

3. Stay fearless. Showing vulnerability or uncertainty is catching -- just like a cold. Rather than infect your staff with fear, take a fearless leader approach and project a sense of calm under pressure. The projection of confidence helps you to act rationally, objectively, and fearlessly. And -- also like a cold -- that fearless attitude is catching among your staff. Having the confidence to step up to challenges without wavering will put a positive spin on those challenges and allow you to work through them with a clear head.

4. Of course, your health and wellness goes without saying. Studies have shown that those with a regular exercise regimen carry a more confident persona. 

Maintaining confidence in your position of leadership is imperative in showing your colleagues and employees the right path.

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What is True Leadership?

LeadershipIntegrity...credibility...respect...these are just a few qualities of a true leader. Anyone can be in a position of leadership, whether at work, school or peer group, but this isn't just a title, lip service or a delegation. It has to come from within. True leaders know who they are and what they stand for; they know their values and the rules they will abide by; and they know and communicate their values openly with those they lead, creating an atmosphere of certainty and trust, says Forbes.

A true leader also:

  • Lives the values they profess to believe
  • Leads by example
  • Works side by side those they lead in order to get to know and care about them
  • Inspires their team
  • Listens without being condescending
  • Is willing to hear what others have to say without judgment
  • Is patient and genuine in their thoughts
  • Communicates openly and often
  • Disciplines with a desire to help others improve rather than from a place of anger
  • Gives feedback in a respectful way
  • Doesn't use sarcasm to communicate; this makes others feel uncertain or belittled

True leaders never back down from a challenge. Yes, everyone has to pick their battles, but when their instincts tell them something is or isn't right, they’ll defend their position succinctly and thoroughly. True leaders also have empathy. That's because they're genuine and sincere, allowing them to understand innately what another is going through because they've been there themselves. This stems from being true to oneself. Not everyone has empathy just like not everyone has respect. It has to be earned.

Thought Leaders

People also ask me, "What is a thought leader?"  A thought leader is an informed opinion leader who is the top resource in their field of expertise. They are trusted leaders who inspire people with innovative and unique ideas; but they don't just talk about it -- they turn those ideas into reality. It's actually a big part of content marketing where you can convey your talent, experience and passion about what you do. Answering questions your readers need to know doesn't stem from a fancy degree. It relies on a differentiated point of view that rests with being an authority in your industry. 

Thought leaders don't just talk the talk -- they actually inspire change in meaningful ways and encourage others to join their efforts through evolutionary advancements in their fields. Yes, they encourage others to be open to new ways of thinking, but they also create the map by which people can achieve it. This set of best practices creates a foundation for others to build on.

True leaders show others what's right through actions not just words. Just because it's your title at work or you can wear it on a badge doesn't mean you are automatically a leader. It's something to be earned and can't be achieved through lip service.

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