Cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, and disruption are common headline topics these days. Our world is becoming increasingly reliant on digital and today's businesses need strong leaders who can navigate the turbulent waters ahead.
Who are these leaders? Well, they run companies like Disney and Lyft, Sephora and Facebook, Nike and Google. They know the value of innovation and transparency and aren't afraid to shake things up in the line of duty. They know we are only in the early days of the Digital Age and they're ready to give any disruptors a run for their money.
These leaders are the CEOs of digitally savvy companies. And if you want your business to compete with them, you might want to take a few notes on the traits these individuals typically possess:
1. An unyielding drive to eliminate the bureaucracy
A prime target for disruption is a company that's rife with red tape, office politics, siloed departments, or a ton of unnecessary bureaucracy. These companies tend to do a poor job at digital transformation and won't last long in the changing market.
For larger corporations, this is often a major hurdle to overcome. These companies have spent years, sometimes decades, setting up siloed departments and systems. If the CEOs of these companies don't work to eliminate bureaucracy, then innovation can die off quickly.
For smaller companies, the opposite is true. Disruptors like Warby Parker or Casper were able to leverage digital technologies to overthrow entire industries from their inception. One of the reasons they were able to do so is because they didn't have any legacy infrastructure or outdated processes to hold them back. They could implement and execute a strategy before the competition ever caught wind. But the trouble for smaller companies occurs when they start to grow. The bigger the company, the easier it is for it to slip into bad habits. In this case, the company's long-term survival depends on a CEO that eliminates office politics and ensures the entire organization is working together.
2. A knack for spotting the right way forward through chaos
L'Oreal is a prime example of a successful digitally savvy legacy brand. This company is over 100 years old, but it continues to push the digital envelope forward. And a major factor in this brand's success is that long-time CEO Jean-Paul Agon was able to see the "digital tsunami" that was coming and navigated L'Oreal through the rocky waters.
Today, the company focuses on ecommerce and leverages Snapchat--they innovate across channels to ensure they're meeting customers where they are. And it's all because Agon saw the impending storm and knew how to move forward.
The simple act of running a business is trying to bring order through chaos. You have a seemingly endless amount of possibilities and options at your fingertips--an excellent CEO can see the forest through the trees and steer the company in the right direction.
3. A willingness to do the work
As a CEO, you need to roll up your sleeves and get the work done. Any business leader who has been asleep behind the wheel of their company is dooming it to disruption. Success requires more than showing up, reading from a PowerPoint deck, and stacking your day with meetings about meetings. You need to research the trends, crunch the numbers, and organize the next plan of attack--typically all at once. This takes a tremendous amount of effort and working hard is the only way to ensure it all gets done.
4. A passion for customer-centric innovation
Innovation for the sake of innovating is not the digitally savvy CEO motto. While these individuals know the power of good ideas, they also know these ideas must first and foremost serve the customer. A virtual reality demo might not work on a 65+ target market, and a digital currency might not be the best solution when most customers don't own a digital wallet.
It's easy to get caught up in the next big tech trend, but a successful CEO will know which innovations their customers will respond to.
If you want to create or lead a digitally savvy company, then adopting the above traits is an excellent place to start. Whether you're a large company or small, legacy brand or independent startup, these traits will get you far in the Digital Age--especially when you never lose sight of the customer.