Leadership initiatives can improve morale, retain talent, improve bottom line

You’ve implemented a digital transformation strategy and are looking forward to improvements in your bottom line, your production, your market share and customer morale. But if you haven’t trained your leadership as part of your implementation, you may not see the gains you anticipated, says Ray Milhem, CEO of MILHEM DTL (Digital Transformation & Leadership), a Pittsburgh firm with Fortune 500 clients, as well as private equity firm clients with their portfolio companies.

“Challenging change initiatives like digital transformation require high-performance leadership commitment and execution to truly be successful,” says Milhem. “Enlisting a third party to provide technical and leadership guidance can ensure effective implementation of your digital transformation.”

Smart Business spoke with Milhem about how to ensure leaders have the right skills to succeed.

Why is having the right leadership in the high-tech world so critical?

If there is a bad apple influencing colleagues and direct staff, that can result in the team not meeting goals. And the good ones who don’t speak up may be damaging your company’s reputation online, or they may simply leave.

Leadership in high-tech is complex. Managing engineers, programmers or software developers is more difficult because of their personalities and because they want to move fast, solve problems and push the envelope. They need a leader they can be loyal to but communicate issues to without sugar coating, respecting the team and having open and honest communication.

Too often, engineers or salespeople are promoted because they are great technical people, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills to be a stellar leader. They need to learn to communicate better, to articulate a plan, to think outside the box, hire for diversity and learn conflict resolution. They need coaching on how to work within a team.

Sometimes leadership is aware of the problem but doesn’t know what to do about it. Or they’re doing it in the wrong way, not in a scientific way. Digital Discovery® is Aspirant’s proprietary virtual interview platform that rapidly synthesizes large-scale qualitative input into quantified, actionable output — just the insight needed to facilitate agile, informed, strategic decisions.

By approaching it scientifically, you can identify the issues and their root causes, then identify what needs to happen to resolve the problems.

How can an outside expert help you begin to create better leaders?

An outside expert can assess what you’re looking for and identify challenges. Perhaps the digital transformation is not moving as fast as a company had hoped. People are leaving. An executive is dragging his feet. There may be challenges with an engineer who can’t manage teams, a salesperson who can’t communicate with engineers, or a vice president who doesn’t have a clear business plan or argues with staff.

In other instances, C-suite executives may not be aware there are issues and are initially resistant to recognizing them. An expert can help identify issues and create clear goals. Is one team losing employees? The root cause may be a dictator manager. Is morale low? Is it a lack of excitement? Compensation? More attractive conditions at a competitor? Or maybe a leader isn’t communicating effectively and is ignoring feedback.

Once the problem has been identified, an expert can customize leadership training to fit the business’s needs.

How long does it take to begin to see results?

It takes time; you can’t just take managers and turn them into better people overnight. Once you start assessing and have a plan, it takes six months to a year to start seeing small results like better productivity, lower costs, optimization of your business and attracting and retaining talent. It’s a very complex environment, and leadership training initiatives can show people the need to be a team, work together, communicate and respect the team.

A third party has the expertise and resources to help your company in the leadership aspect of digital transformation to identify the root causes of leadership issues to improve productivity and efficiency.

INSIGHTS Digital Transformation is brought to you by MILHEM DTL.