5 Characteristics of Successful Digital Transformation Leaders

Written By: Alexandra Levit
May 6, 2021
3 min read

As organizations seek to survive and thrive amidst constant disruption, building the right digital transformation strategy is more important than ever. And that starts at the top, with strong leadership being critical to guiding that approach. Here are the five characteristics successful digital transformation leaders need to make their organizations prepared for the modern business landscape.


One of the biggest focuses of modern digital transformation is bringing about change throughout your entire organization. When change is limited to happening just through IT channels, transformation is stuck without the power of the entire organization. Taking a dual-track approach to transformation, with business user-powered rapid cycle innovation working in tandem with IT-led grand scale transformation, will allow for speed in reacting to change.

Further, showing that you as a digital transformation leader have the entire business’s needs in mind – including governance and security, flexibility, and solving key business needs – will bring others into the conversation and create a collaborative mindset. Models such as a Center of Excellence can ensure this collaboration is top-of-mind.


With change coming faster than ever across all industries, resiliency and agility have become considerably more important. In their 2020 survey “Re-evaluating Digital Transformation During COVID-19,” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) found a 33% increase in organizations looking to improve business continuity and resiliency as a top business priority.

Leading organizations have taken this opportunity to increase their flexibility and agility more than other organizations. That same HBRAS survey found that 70% of leaders say their organizations have increased agility with operations and business workflows, significantly more than follower and laggard organizations. The best leaders are increasing their agility and preparation for disruption – whatever that disruption may be.


Top digital transformation leaders are taking a data-first approach – all actions throughout the organization and optimizing your business come from insightful analytics. Unfortunately, organizations that rely solely on core systems like ERPs are missing an opportunity to have information at their fingertips. Core systems can lack real-time insights to drive decisions. Further, data can end up siloed in inaccessible locations, leaving organizations craving information they cannot find.

Leaders are moving beyond the ERP and focusing on a Digital Operations Platform – a platform that is adaptive, AI based, and accessible. By uniting your approach to digital transformation around data, you will always be acting from an informed perspective. This is also a great way to add an agility layer – giving your team capabilities above and beyond traditional ERP systems.


Commitment from leadership can make or break digital transformation efforts. As Quickbase CIO Deb Gildersleeve notes, buy-in needs to start with a strong commitment from leadership. With empowerment from the top-down, people across your business will understand the importance of this effort.

When leaders are committed, your entire organization will understand the importance of your efforts and empower your entire organization to take on digital transformation. And with the right technology on board, the message from the top down will encourage individual teams to have ownership over their own business processes.


Finally, digital transformation takes having the right technology on board. Empowering your business users with no-code technology will give them the capabilities they need to make rapid changes when your business is pressured by external forces. Elevating the practice of citizen development, where business professionals make the continuous improvements your organization needs and contribute to digital transformation, will give leaders the chance to have a digital transformation that truly permeates your entire organization.

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.