FAQ 14: What makes a terrible Digital Transformation leader?

FAQ 14: What makes a terrible Digital Transformation leader?

Lindsay Herbert, keynote speaker and author of the acclaimed book ‘Digital Transformation’ continues her series answering frequently asked questions on the subject of digital transformation. Here Lindsay answers the question, “What makes a terrible Digital Transformation leader?”


Hi, I’m Lindsay Herbert and today’s Friday’s answered question is: “what are the worst traits in a digital transformation leader?”

I’m actually going to give you two things to watch out for.

The first is that they talk a lot about technology.

“Network nation and the silicon f****** playground.” “The Thick of It”, Series 4, episode 1.

If they’re very knowledgeable about technology, they might be good to work for the digital transformation leader, but they shouldn’t be the one deciding the direction of the program, because they’re going to miss the point. The point is to achieve the mission of the company, and knowing what the latest and greatest in technology is, might not be relevant to the mission of the company, or the customers it’s trying to serve.

Second thing to look out for though is someone who doesn’t talk about the “how”. “How do you do digital transformation?”

“It’s about harnessing the interconnectivity of everyone in society. It’s a new way of thinking. Innovation, self-investment, revenue flux! Growth! Ergo, a healthy network. What’s so complicated about that?”

“All the words you’ve just used.” “The Thick of It”, Series 4, episode 1.

It’s very easy for people to stand in front of a PowerPoint and give a really dramatic presentation about the age of disruption and these are the threats, and these are the things you need to be looking at. But if they can’t share detailed stories about how they overcame barriers and achieved specific objectives and other programs that they’ve led, then it might be a sign that they didn’t actually do any transformations. They made things more digital, but they didn’t actually have to overcome anything or really drastically change anything. So someone who focuses on technology too much and someone who is incapable of talking about the detail or the how they overcame barriers and made transformation happen, both of those red flags – definitely avoid.


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