Research reveals that just a third of leaders in multi-national organisations are well prepared for leading in a digital age. 

Biggest barriers to transformation include:

  • Cybersecurity,
  • Reskilling the workforce, and
  • Fear of change. 

80 percent of employees say leaders with good digital skills are more successful and better at communicating with colleagues and clients

A study, "Leading in a Digital Age" conducted by The Oxford Group, a City & Guilds Group business, has uncovered that companies are struggling to adapt to a digital workplace as leaders lack critical digital skills to transform and staff fear change.

Whilst 96 percent of respondents said the onus is on leaders to drive the adoption of new technologies and 94 percent believe it’s important for leaders to challenge traditional ways of thinking, only a third (33 percent) of leaders feel well prepared to lead their business. 

Gaps in leaders’ digital skill-sets are having a major impact on their ability to transform; 41 percent say that a lack of digital expertise makes decision-making more difficult, and 30 percent say it has prevented their team from innovating.

The challenge goes beyond leadership. 60 percent of employees at all levels say that staff at different levels of their organisation lack the skills needed to propel their business into the digital age. Respondents outlined how their organisational infrastructure is also limiting digital transformation, whether that’s the challenge of managing security and the risk of data leaks (45 percent are concerned), tackling the fear of change to roles and routines (42 percent), or reskilling the workforce (31 percent).

Commenting on the findings, John Yates, MD Corporate Learning of City & Guilds Group, said:

“Digital transformation is seeding itself in all aspects of our lives as we continue even further into the fourth revolution. Businesses, C-suites, and employees need to adapt their attitudes and behaviours to meet the changing demands of the workplace. The critical skills of today are much different to those that were needed a decade and even a few years ago, and will differ from those needed tomorrow and into the future. New technologies and learning tools can make it far easier to adapt, but only where there is consistency and buy-in from employees across organisations.”

Whilst lacking confidence in the digital skills of colleagues and senior leaders, both management and the wider workforce realise the benefits of being digitally adept. 80 percent of those surveyed said leaders with good digital skills are able to communicate more effectively with employees and clients, and 71 percent said strong digital skills help staff progress more quickly. Employees show a clear appetite to learn, with half of those surveyed (48 percent) saying their careers would benefit from further training on the technology and systems in their business. Beyond the technical skills, 41 percent said they would value coaching or guidance on how to perform and communicate more effectively in an era of digital transformation.

John Yates continues, “As far as leaders’ responsibilities in the era of digital transformation, the research highlighted that 81 percent of workers think it’s important that senior management recognise and are open about the fact that they do not have to know everything, which can feel counterintuitive when we think about traditional perceptions of leadership.

“It is clear that when it comes to leading effectively in the digital age we are in, attitudes need to shift. Leaders need to set an example by learning new skills – whether that’s about how to empower employees to make changes, or developing their own digital capabilities – and ultimately create a learning culture where everyone recognises that learning is an ongoing, gradual process regardless of where they are on the career ladder.”

Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Censuswide. Total sample size was 1000 managers, C-suites, and employees in global organisations. Fieldwork was undertaken between in October 2018, with the survey carried out online.

About John Yates, MD Corporate Learning of City & Guilds Group: Providing strategic oversight and leadership of our two Corporate Learning businesses, Kineo and The Oxford Group, he also manages the Group’s Venture Fund. John has extensive experience in education and learning, e-learning, learning technologies and digital product development. He has held a range of roles across the Group, including CEO of our Joint Venture in Bangalore, India, and Group Director, ILM.

About The Oxford Group: With over 30 years’ experience of creating trusted and engaged leaders and managers, The Oxford Group is known and valued for the exceptional relationships we build with our clients, their people and the results of our development programmes.

A global provider of leadership and management development solutions to large international organisations, we’ve a well-earned reputation for quality, professionalism and working through long-term partnerships with consultants and clients. Our programmes blend innovative experiential learning with deep personal insights, coaching and work-based learning. Our business practice areas include Transformational leadership, Talent management, Management capability, Executive coaching, and Employee engagement.

We deliver programmes in 29 different languages, and have 180+ consultants operating in 62 countries worldwide.

About the City & Guilds Group: The City & Guilds Group is a world leader in skills development. Working in over 100 countries across the globe, our purpose is to enable people and organisations to develop their skills for growth.

From setting the standard for on-the-job training through to supporting skills development around the world, the City & Guilds Group has 140 years’ experience in preparing people to contribute to successful businesses and thriving economies.

Our brands support people into a job, on the job and into the next job.

  • Corporate learning:  Kineo and The Oxford Group are our corporate training and development brands, supporting everything from large-scale training programmes, workforce management and elearning through to bespoke management training and executive coaching.
  • Skills credentialing: City & Guilds, ILM and Digitalme set the standard for skills development. They have a 360 degree view of skills; from developing the expertise needed in today’s workplace, testing and assessing this through robust qualifications, through to the recognition of in-house training programmes and digital badging of skills and experience
  •  Gen2, our newest brand, is a technical training provider delivering skills training in engineering and technology for the UK civil nuclear industry.

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