Digital Transformation Leaders – Common Themes

First let’s define digital transformation leaders. All too often this is aligned predominantly with the technology leader whom is typically a Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, or Chief Innovation Officer. The overview I am providing is based upon the CEO or Chief Digital Officer who is responsible for the transformation.

Some Common Themes of the Digital Transformation Leader are:

  • They question the current model. The book “Who Moved My Cheese” is aligned with their experience and mindset. Adapt, innovate or die. The Wayne Gretzky quote is apropos…”I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”;
  • They have a passion for learning;
  • They are data and metrics driven;
  • Regardless if they are digital leaders or traditional leaders, the best leaders invest in their team. The foundation for this focus is quite simple, it sets a positive theme within the overall culture of the organization. If you don’t invest in your team, someone else will. Strong leaders know the negative effect of high employee turnover;
  • They share the passion and vision of the company;
  • They are focused on culture of the company through their employees;
  • No barriers – they align technology and marketing with leaders in each of those disciplines who are not territorial. Technology without marketing and vice versa simply does not work in digital transformation. Resistance from either or both sides will either cause failure or slow the transformation;
  • They are growth leaders – we all know businesses grow by streamlining processes, reducing expenses and by revenue growth. These are not binary. Digital transformation leaders are focused on growth through sales and marketing. However, growth is not obtained simply by reducing costs;
  • Their vision, strategy and execution are also important traits for all strong leaders. Your digital transformation leader has the proven experience to see the transformation, set the vision and drive the business.

The leaders who transform businesses are type “A” drivers and are not happy with the status quo. Their focus on growth, learning and embracing change drives them and their business.

A few leading industries that remain in need of transformation are Advertising, Media, Publishing, Non Profit, Retail and a few others. We have witnessed the early transformation back in the 90’s and continue to see the evolution of change. However the leadership traits and common themes remain the same.

About the Author

Paul Stefunek is Managing Director at ZRG Partners and is active across the Technology, Industrial, Media/ Entertainment and Private Equity Practices. Mr. Stefunek brings more than 20 years of executive recruiting experience to ZRG Partners. He began his career in executive search in 1993 as a Director for Christian & Timbers, and has placed candidates across the C-Suite, Board of Directors, and VP level roles. Prior to joining ZRG Partners, Mr. Stefunek was a Partner with DHR International. Previously he co-founded paul-lawrence associates and served as Managing Partner and Global Internet & New Media Practice Leader. Previously, he served as Vice President & National Practice Leader for the StratfordGroup across 15 offices throughout the U.S. and London. Before his career in executive search Mr. Stefunek’s career was founded in sales management, training and product management with Pitney Bowes and Automatic Data Processing.

Mr. Stefunek resides in Cleveland and holds a B.B.A. in Marketing with a concentration in Management from Pace University. He also sits on Boards of two technology start-up companies, Mobile Media One and Responder Technology and a stealth company.

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