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When conventional business and IT leadership capabilities meet the new world

When conventional business and IT leadership capabilities meet the new world

That new and innovative digital technologies continue to disrupt and reshape industries, organisations and the employment landscape is old news. What is news is there remains a stubbornly large leadership capability deficit in most organisations.

The recently published Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report by Deloitte suggests that one of the key business leadership challenges for 2016 is company culture, staff engagement and minimising employee churn. This extensive analysis, based on input from 3,300 business leaders across 106 countries, shares some valuable insights as to current employee / employer landscape, globally. With a 36 per cent gap between the importance and readiness rating, leadership is the leading factor that underpins organisational excellence and performance.

Why are some organisations able to remain innovative, successful, viable and adaptable despite all that gets thrown at them? Simply put, it all comes down to leadership capability.

We all know when established organisations (or at least individual business units, departments or teams within organisations) are in the hands of good leaders. Other than delivering great organisational value (through profitability, value or other external measure), there is often a high degree of interpersonal collaboration, teamwork, a sense of a shared vision, integrity, trust and a sense of being valued by their organisation. All good in theory, right?

The challenge facing modern business leaders is in proactively and carefully getting the cost – risk – value balance for information technology right – and keeping it right in the face of constant change.

For this reason, an engaged, business ready, commercially savvy and communicative IT capability within your organisation could be that game changer if handled well.

When does a service department become a critical business asset?

According to the latest global research by McKinsey, many enterprise IT functions are struggling to keep up with their own organisation’s demands, let alone positively and directly contribute to the growth of the business. More pointedly, this research also indicates that business executives’ perceptions of enterprise IT’s performance remains largely negative.

This presents a real missed opportunity for those organisations struggling with their own IT departments.

Read more: The CIO for a digital era: A collaborative bi-modal approach

With the wholesale march of digitisation across society, entire industries and organisations, it is imperative that businesses leaders harness the real potential value that technology can deliver to their organisation, while carefully managing and mitigating the many risks.

Based on the recent McKinsey research, a significant majority of today’s IT departments play no active role in shaping the overall business strategy or in growing the business. However, evidence shows that effective IT leadership improves the success of the business.

Executives and company Boards that are recognising the limitations of their existing IT and business leadership capabilities are well placed to take action. Today’s volatile and demanding business environment calls for IT leaders to start being business-ready and business leaders to be very tech-aware.

Question is:
When new business demands meet old business and IT leadership models, who wins?

Read more: 5 tips for CIOs to better connect with boards

The questionable ROI on leadership training.

Question: Why is Leadership Training often seen as expensive?
Answer: Because the investment has a questionable Return in Investment (ROI).

Empirical evidence and independent research support this fact.

If the value of your Leadership Training is opaque, does not translate into organisational effectiveness, lacks immediate relevance to both your organisation as well as the participants, then your Leadership Training effort will be a cost to your organisation.

Read more: Career future-proofing is only part of the picture

That’s just not good business sense.

Where employees are able to anticipate, deal with and actively contribute to implementing change – rather than be resistant to change – will enable the entire organisation to thrive and remain relevant.

The key is to identify what IT and business leadership capabilities deficiencies exist across your executive, then take steps to transform these deficiencies into assets.

Read more: 10 questions dominating boardroom agendas for 2016


Rob Livingstone (rob@rob-livingstone.com) is a mentor, consultant, and industry advisor. He is the author of Direction through Disruption and Navigating through the Cloud. He is a fellow of the University of Technology, Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT, where he lectures to higher-degree students on leadership, strategy and innovation.

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