Digital transformation is hard work, from developing a strategy to leading a
culture change. CIOs, CMOs, and CDOs quickly realize that executing digital
transformations requires prioritizing strategic initiatives, assigning team
leaders, and establishing the right balance between
self-organization and developing standards.
Having the “right people” and key lieutenants – what I call
– is the key to success, especially given how fast industries are evolving
and new generative AI technologies create opportunities.
I contemplate what it means to find “the right people” for my leadership
team in Chapter 8 of Digital Trailblazer. “Make sure you hire the right people,” is what board members and
colleagues would say to me, and I struggled to translate this common and
generic advice into a practical game plan.
One important aspect of hiring the “right people” is driving a culture with
diverse leaders and empathetic teams. “Hiring and nurturing diverse teams, creating an inclusive culture, and
driving empathy are ongoing needs and essential to transformations,” I
I wanted to go deeper in defining the “right people” and decided to expand
my understanding at a recent
Coffee with Digital Trailblazers, a LinkedIn audio event I host on Fridays at 11am ET. I asked speakers,
“Who are the right people to lead digital transformation
initiatives,” and to suggest one or two words that best describe a
I’m sorry to say I don’t have a recording of the event as LinkedIn doesn’t
provide them to LinkedIn Audio Event organizers. The event is open for
anyone to attend, and we’re nearing our 50th collaboration
episode. Do join us!
Better than a recording – I gathered the event’s contributors, and
collectively, we captured 50 attributes of Digital Trailblazers. Thank you,
Joanne Friedman, Joseph Puglisi, Kit Johnson, Martin Davis (CIO), Ashish
Parulekar, Martha Lewis, Tyler James Johnson, Alma Kondili, and Heather May!
I’m not quite ready to share the 50 attributes as I am still working on ways
to present them without overwhelming everyone. For example, I doubt anyone
truly exemplifies all 50 attributes, and I believe some are more important
than others, depending on business objectives, culture, and other
The five key competency areas of Digital Trailblazers
But here’s what I can share today. First, I’ll be releasing several videos
with leaders selecting the attributes they feel are most important. If you
want to know my selections, watch the Driving Digital Standup video
Second, I grouped the Digital Trailblazer attributes into five categories –
or what I think competency areas is a better term.
Leadership – Corresponding to how you might answer a question on
leadership style, qualities, or practices.
Personal Competencies – Identifying the personality skills,
knowledge, and behaviors common to Digital Trailblazers.
People Skills – Listing a Digital Trailblazer’s approaches and
practices when collaborating with teams, partnering with other leaders,
and supporting individuals.
Digital – Recognizing the type of skills Digital Trailblazers rely
on to translate opportunities into solutions and deliver outcomes.
Transformation – Specifying the types of practices a Digital
Trailblazer will likely apply to challenge the status quo, grow
supporters, handle detractors, and lead change management practices.
I am using a liberal license on the term competency areas because when you
see the list of fifty attributes, some are competencies, others are skills,
and some are proficiencies.
I hope you’ll watch the video, and please subscribe to the
Driving Digital Standup
to be notified of when I release interviews with the other
contributors. You can receive early access to the 50 attributes as a
Driving Digital Newsletter
subscriber (free), and I’ll review the list at a future
Coffee with Digital Trailblazers
Digital Trailblazers! Join us Fridays at 11am ET for a live audio discussion on digital
transformation topics: innovation, product management, agile, DevOps,
data governance, and more!