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Digital Skills And Effective Leadership In The 21st Century

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Leadership has always been a pivotal part of society; without it the world would have long fallen into an abyss of anarchy, leaving zero room for the order, technological advancement and scientific upgrades that we have enjoyed over time.

While leadership has largely become inseparable from our regular lives, leaders have stayed relevant by adapting and evolving with development and new trends over time. And the latest of these trends is the age of digitization.

Leaders like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, have embraced the digital change and adapted to it very swiftly with their excellent leadership skills. This has made them stand out as leaders. And with the advent of technology, they have upgraded their skills that go hand in hand with the changes necessary.

The ability to lead effectively is based on a number of skills, including communication, motivation, vision, modeling, demonstrating empathy, confidence, persistence, and integrity.

However, being a leader in the 21st century requires more than the aforementioned.

Before we delve deeply into the discourse, lets us first establish the meaning of what Leadership Skills are; Leadership skills are the skills required to engage with, motivate, and persuade people to align with a vision, goal, or objective.

Also, aside the necessity of having digital skills to strive in the 21st century, there are some basic traits a good leader possesses, these traits are; the desire to lead, integrity, communication, self-awareness, gratitude, influence empathy, etc.

Having carefully laid the bricks for a better understanding of who a leader is, and what basic skills he/she must possess, lets us know explicate on the idea of digital skills and leadership in the 21st century.

For a leader to exist, there must first be followers. Both parties will also co-exist in an ecosystem with a lot of similarities.

This ecosystem is dynamic, changing its layers and entirety from time to time, hence for a leader to stay effective he/she must also change with the trends, necessary to stay leadership-worthy of whatever followers he/she may pull.

With this ecosystem evolving daily, yearly, this 21st century has experienced great technological development and scientific upgrades. This has made this current generation a digital one, with almost half of the world’s population being a netizen.

It is obvious that a leader who is not a digital or tech savvy may be considered old-fashioned, or worse, struggle to lead people in this current century.

The identified 21st-century digital skills are technical, information, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving (Van Laar et al., 2017).

However, below are several other digital skills that a leader needs to stay and remain effective in the 21st century;

  1. Learning and Relearning:

At the pace at which our world is changing, adaptability remains the best bet for leaders in the current business scenario. Digital disruption has been on the rise, and adaptive leaders understand the importance of being relevant in the game and keep their learning curve steady. Leaders must learn new workflow tactics and behaviors to understand business and work processes in today’s digital world.

In the very same way, it is necessary that we go back to the basics, relearn and start fresh with a new approach and tactics given the digital transformation. This will give us a new perspective about the changes that are happening and help you deal with the phase shift. It is one of the best ways to develop your leadership skills.

  1. Technological Proficiency:

As the world is changing at a rapid pace, technology has taken over everything. And technological advancement has now flourished in the corporate industry as well. A technically skilled leader sees the bigger picture that technology can play in an organization. It is one of the critical skills that a leader should possess.

Technically able leaders possess knowledge about organizational strength, the products and services, and the capability to solve technical issues and help others adjust to new innovations. This skill will help you portray yourself as a leader for the future who is well equipped with thoughts and ideas with excellent problem-solving expertise.

  1. Agility:

In today’s fast-paced corporate and ever-changing digital environment, it has become imperative for everyone to adapt to it swiftly. This will be only possible if we, as leaders, are open to changes and have an agile mind.

Agility is defined as the ability to think and understand quickly. And this needs one to practice and develop their knowledge about everything.

The sound and clear mind of a leader can work well across cultures and motivate staff. And leadership agility gives you the skill to make intelligent and effective decisions in a rapidly changing technological world. It means being flexible and forward-thinking towards the better development of your organization.

  1. Digital Literacy:

A leader must also be a digital literate if he/she must survive in the 21st century.

A 21st century leader must have skills he/she needs to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasing through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices.

Developing critical thinking skills is also essential when confronted with so much information in different formats – searching, sifting, evaluating, applying and producing information all requires critical thinking.

Communication is also a key aspect of digital literacy. When communicating in virtual environments, the ability to clearly express your ideas as leader, ask relevant questions, maintain respect, and build trust is just as important as when communicating in person.

You’ll also need practical skills in using technology to access, manage, manipulate and create information in an ethical and sustainable way.

Finally, it is not easy to develop any skill overnight. Patience, hard work, communication skills, and perseverance are the keys here. Just give yourself some time to process the changes going around you. Learn from it, explore and embrace the unending possibilities that you will get as a leader.



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