IT leadership: 10 essential skills for digital transformation success

Successful digital transformation requires strong leadership. Check out these key skills to grow a productive, innovative IT team in 2023
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Do you want your organization to embrace digital transformation in 2023? Optimize the use of tech stacks? Create automated workflows that enhance both employee and customer experiences?

You must have buy-in from your teams.

Whether you are looking to grow your team in the months ahead or realign your executive leadership to move digital transformation forward, here are ten critical skills you need to cultivate to lead a strong team of tech innovators.

1. Agile mindset

Take a page from your software development team’s playbook and take an agile approach to digital transformation. An essential part of complete digital transformation is understanding that the work is never done – it can only be optimized. By starting with the idea that your organization’s digital transformation initiatives do not have an end date, you can foster a culture within your teams that focuses on small wins over time, thus eliminating digital fatigue and burnout.

2. Sales + marketing + customer service = experience

In the coming years, we will likely see a convergence of sales, marketing, and customer service functions under a larger customer experience umbrella. Small changes made now to align these parts of the business, from UX development to nurturing top-of-the-funnel leads, will tee up your organization to be a customer experience leader in your vertical.

3. Security

Growing concerns about the safety and security of apps are making consumers more aware of how their data is being used. A strong tech leader understands how to communicate transparently what their organization is doing to secure customer data. Internally, leadership serves as an example and ensures that all teams have adequate resources to prevent security breaches.

[ Related read: Digital transformation: 4 security tips for 2023. ]

4. Investment in evolving AI

Following the public release of ChatGPT, technology leaders are speculating how AI will further change the way we do business. We already see tools like RunwayML, with its plug-and-play interface, enabling business users to explore the capabilities of AI without an advanced degree. Future-ready leaders should embrace these and similar technologies and encourage their teams to do the same.

5. Computer vision engineering

LinkedIn currently lists nearly 80,000 open computer vision engineering positions. In high demand, computer vision engineering will be a key technical skill in the coming months. As part of the evolving AI landscape, computer vision technology has applications in retail, security, ESG, and more. To get ahead of the curve, think about the applications of computer vision engineering in your businesses.

6. Effective listening

Sometimes forgotten as a vital leadership skill, active listening can help your teams feel valued and work more effectively. In 2023, focus on listening for understanding instead of thinking about what you will say next.

[ Also read Digital transformation: 3 tips to overcome common challenges. ]

7. Clear vision

Amid market disruptions and economic uncertainty, teams look to their leaders for guidance. They take cues from senior team members for when to panic, lean in, or conduct business as usual. Given the tech layoffs in the second half of 2022, convey a clear vision for your team. If you distill the most important goals and have an execution plan, your teams won’t struggle with ambiguity.

8. Ownership delegation

Your plan for 2023 only works if you delegate part of the responsibility to trusted team members. This can be difficult, particularly for tech leaders who have seen their companies grow from startups. The new year is a time to renew your faith in the teams you’ve hired. Remember that greater transparency, accountability, and shared ownership are breeding grounds for creative solutions and high performance.

9. Storytelling

Connecting a company's business and technical vision continues to be a challenge for tech leaders. But the through line is your brand’s story. To create deeper ties between business and tech teams, get clear on your messaging: What problem are you solving? Who are the stakeholders? How do you communicate your solution regularly and consistently?

10. Reskilling/upskilling

Finally, one of the most essential skills for strong tech leaders is openness about your weaknesses. If every person could tackle every business challenge, we wouldn’t build companies; we’d have a collection of solopreneurs. As a leader, it is your responsibility to recognize your limitations. Build out your teams with diverse skills and commit to reskilling and upskilling just like you encourage your employees to do.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Ritish Reddy is one of three co-founders of Zluri, a provider of an enterprise SaaS Management and Orchestration platform, and leads the organization's marketing and partnerships initiatives.