January 17, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Traits of Leaders in the Digital Era

By Roelof Louw

Many definitions of leadership can be found and in essence leadership is about people, about change and about achieving goals. This article will explore leadership skills in the digital era.

Leaders in digital eraIn an article published on the site, Executives Online, the author, Andrew MacAskill (Feb 18, 2015) identifies “5 Essential Skills of a Future Super Leader” as:

  • Digital savvy
  • An engineering mindset
  • An agile risk taker
  • A true believe in corporate and social responsibility
  • Great self-leaders

Digital savvy

A digital savvy leader must have a solid understanding of current technologies that enables a social and global connectivity to be in touch with the changes demanded or needed in society, industry and the market place. These technologies provide the means to create knowledge from an explosion of information to allow for identification of a change or a trend. A leader also uses these tools to drive the change.

Engineering mindset

A leader must have an engineering mindset to apply new technology concepts and trends such as Cloud Computing, Telemetry and Big Data to enable people to innovate within an industry and thereby leading people to change through applied innovation.

Agile risk taker

Risk is inevitable. MacAskill describes that risk can be valuable when a leader practices intelligent risk taking which is sometimes necessary, to prosper. Leaders must be informed and knowledgeable to know when to take calculated risks, when to avoid it and how to manage risks in particular situations. A leader needs to be in touch and digitally connected to be a successful, agile risk taker.

Corporate and social responsibility

Capitalism in its essence cannot be socially responsible however business leaders live in a capitalist world with a growing demand for social responsibility to ensure sustainability. A true future leader within the digital era must therefore apply technology and innovation to create a mindset or psyche of social responsibility. This requires entrenchment of the concepts of sustainability in the organization, with employees and customers alike and in the community.


Leadership is not instructional. A leader must be a successful business leader, an upstanding community leader and a followed people leader. In business, a leader must apply him or herself to specialize or master a subject, apply his / her expertise in the community and be in touch with emotions, passions and abilities of people to lead.

It is important to remember that leadership skills can be developed. Leaders of today must become future super leaders as MacAskill describes them where the leadership traits and styles are applied within the context of the digital era.

About the Author:

Roelof Louw is an IT professional with a passion for how people, technology and process are applied in business, community and society to improve, drive change and innovate.  At present Roelof focuses on applying his career experience in IT management and strategy as well as consultation on Cloud, Managed Services and Computing Services topics. Connect with Roelof on Linkedin or mail him at roelof.louw@gmail.com


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