Big Picture

Essential leadership traits to build organizations of the future

Kamales Lardi

Organizations of the future require strong, resilient leadership to stay competitive and ensure success. This means connecting organizational change to the fundamental values, abilities, and aspirations of the people involved. Recognizing large-scale transformation is a gradual process that can be a difficult experience with high degrees of uncertainty, business leaders need to be patient in bearing the pressures that come with it.

For senior executives, trust is essential for success. Leveraging vulnerability to build bonds of solidarity with employees during difficult times not only demonstrates strength and courage but can also help pave the way toward successful transformation initiatives in an organization. Open communication provides a powerful platform from which leaders can lead by example – inviting staff into their journey as allies instead of adversaries on this road less traveled.

Leadership has been revolutionized, leaving behind the traditional authoritative model, and embracing vulnerability in uncertain times. Seniority is no longer a reliable indicator of leadership – with businesses working across multiple disciplines, success relies on leaders who are able to motivate people from different backgrounds toward a common goal.

Digital transformation is the wave of the future in business, and successful leaders are those who embrace it. Business leaders must not only be digitally ready but also encourage and support employees through this process to achieve incredible growth. In my recent book, The Human Side Of Digital Business Transformation, I lay out six key leadership characteristics that help create organizations primed for digital success.

Six Leadership Traits For Digital Transformation Success
Six Leadership Traits For Digital Transformation Success
Source: The Human Side Of Digital Business Transformation, by Kamales Lardi (Wiley, 2022)
  • Abundance Mindset
    Leaders with an abundance mindset believe in the exponential opportunities of business and understand that there are enough resources and successes for all. They have a positive outlook on the transformation process, as opposed to leaders with a scarcity mindset who fear that nothing is ever enough. An abundance mindset creates empowered leaders who see opportunity in change rather than challenge or defeat; they identify skills needed for success and take steps to develop them quickly.

    Emerging technologies create opportunities for exponential growth with fewer resources than traditional businesses require, allowing access to global markets without physical presence. Leaders need to consider future opportunities during transformation processes while staying vigilant of uncertainty; those confident and adaptable lead from an abundance mentality whereas those scarcity-minded anticipate failure due to a lack of resources or time/money investment required for success. This can lead to downward spirals that drain the confidence necessary to face challenges or risks.

    Abundance-minded leaders make investments in themselves and their teams providing development not only job-related but also emotional/mental well-being and physical health fitness creating a sense of self-worth among team members leading the company’s success.

  • Empower People
    To fully embrace the potential of digital business transformation, organizations must cultivate a culture that fosters collaboration and puts customers first. It is up to an organization’s leaders to create an environment where employees feel empowered to innovate, experiment, and push boundaries in order to drive success sustainably. Embark on a journey of transformation with formal mechanisms that reinforce and foster innovative behaviors. Organize open forums to promote interactivity, ideation, and learning through digital platforms for upskilling opportunities. Let employees lead the way as they share their experiences from this exciting adventure and guide you towards better daily work dynamics.

    With the right processes and policies in place, organizations can empower their employees to grow self-sufficiently. Business leaders must foster this journey by giving direct support and providing valuable feedback along the way, which builds confidence for decision-making. By investing effort into equipping personnel with all necessary resources, companies will find they have a workforce of dedicated individuals willing to engage in the transformation that is loyal and productive.

  • Consciousness & Empathy
    In recent years, companies have started to recognize the value and positive impact of leading people in a conscious and empathetic way. Consciousness refers to being aware of one’s surroundings and inner landscape, while empathy is recognizing and sharing the feelings of others. Business leaders can demonstrate empathy through cognitive or emotional understanding; trust is essential during organizational transformation as it builds respect between employees.

    It is necessary for business leaders to understand developing technologies, their impacts on businesses, as well as any gaps that exist within an organization in order for digital transformation initiatives to be successful. True success comes from guiding people through times of fear or uncertainty with compassion and understanding. This ability enables the collective driving force behind transformation initiatives which are critical for success.

  • Adaptable & Flexible
    Leaders who can comfortably and confidently pivot when faced with the unknown are essential for success in today’s ever-changing landscape. They demonstrate resilience by being open to learning from setbacks and maintaining an optimistic attitude even if things do not always go as planned. Adaptive leaders understand that tried-and-true methods may not be applicable down the line – they have a special insight into recognizing what works now and preparing for future changes that could potentially unfold.

    Adaptability is a critical capability for any employee, but it is especially important for those who are responsible for leading others and an organization through constantly shifting environments. Whether navigating a new leadership role or responding quickly in rapidly changing environments, successful adaptation and evolution of strategic influencing skills can bring out extraordinary leadership characteristics within them – one that drives positive change for themselves and those around them.

  • Closeness To Customer
    Successful leaders in digital transformation always ensure that customers are at the heart of the business. In many organizations, leaders were often kept at a distance from the customer by hierarchical structures, as well as daily business operations. As a result, leaders often lose touch with the customer needs and preferences, and the real value that the business is able to create in the market.

    To truly prioritize customers, business leaders must foster a culture of appreciation and understanding. The digital business transformation journey presents an opportunity for organizations to leverage integrated data, technology, and content to create hyper-personalized and unique customer interactions across all touchpoints. By delving deeper into customer needs and predicting their behavior, companies will be able to craft experiences that keep customers coming back for more – creating lifelong loyalty along the way.

  • Courage & Conviction
    Bold leaders have the courage to forge their own path and pioneer new ways of thinking, driving the transformative impact of change. They understand that people are valuable assets who need support and guidance during the transformation process – managing it effectively with transparency and resilience. Leaders foster collaboration over hierarchical structures for successful end results, which inevitably means difficult decisions that may need to be made relating to resources, capabilities, or roles. Bold and committed leaders will be able to not only drive transformation but also ensure the journey is managed in a human-centric way.

As the business landscape continues to change and evolve, it is more important than ever for leaders to develop these key leadership traits that could make or break the digital business transformation journey. By building organizations that are adaptable and agile, leaders can ensure that their companies are best positioned to thrive in an ever-changing environment.


Written by Kamales Lardi.
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Kamales Lardi
Kamales Lardi is a bold and strategic thinker in digital and business transformation. She combines over 22 years of deep cross-industry experience with the latest digital and technology solutions. Kamales is listed in the “Top 10 Global Thought Leaders in Digital Transformation” (Thinkers360). In 2022, Kamales was recognized in International 40 Over 40 - The World's Most Inspiring Women by CapGemini Invent and Female One Zero. Her latest book The Human Side Of Digital Business Transformation is available now.


Kamales Lardi is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.