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Leadership Rules for the Digital Age


In a digital age where data is power, a company’s competitiveness depends greatly on its management’s attitude to data. The days of taking decisions within a ‘time window’ are behind us. Today, decisions are made in real-time. Decisions made using data are quicker, more precise and more effective than those with no data or outdated data. Which means the two important questions leadership should ask are:

 Are we making the right decision at the right time?

Has the company embraced changes to stay competitive in a technology-driven business landscape?

 For data to be available on-demand and in an easily comprehensible format, a robust data strategy must necessarily be in place. Part of that strategy is to identify tools that allow the company to make sense of increasingly complex data systems.

How best can we plan our technology investment to ensure that the tools we implement are delivering their true economic value?

 As data strategies and investments will be planned, controlled and overseen by executives, it goes without saying that companies need the best people in leadership roles. Data strategy is, after all, person-centric; the most powerful technology is useless in the hands of incompetent teams. What, then, are the rules on ‘ideal leadership’ in the digital age?


  1. Ensuring that the people who make data work are given the freedom and autonomy to state their views in key conversations. They should be empowered to act as leaders to drive innovations and positive transformations with data. These ‘datapreneurs’ should have representation in senior leadership, on the board, and at the managerial level.
  2. Datapreneurs’ don’t necessarily need to hold a formal leadership role but be regarded as influential, valuable assets whose expertise is called upon during strategic business meetings. Though they may be technical gurus, their value lies in aligning technology and business to drive new value. They are entrepreneurial first and technical if required. They are concerned with leveraging data in improving business processes and bringing everything together.
  3. You can pick datapreneurs’ from your existing workforce or hire entrepreneurial self-starters into key positions at every level of the organization. These individuals must be technically adept and entrepreneurial minded, with the ability to create, pursue and realize a vision. They must be able to identify opportunity in order to monetize data investment; influence and gain support in the ecosystem; raise funding for the effort; build a team to create and deliver the value proposition; and scale out the proposition to create lasting value.