Common sense digital skills for digital leaders

man and woman using computer

Written by Bob Barker, Senior Advisor, Leading Edge Forum and CEO of Digital Common Sense

As a digital leader, you are probably already leading many forms of digital transformation in your organisation. But have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about your own digital skills and transformation? I am not talking about going on a Python coding course, or learning how to become an SEO expert, or build a website, which is what normally comes up when you type in digital skills. I am talking about the basic common sense digital skills everyone is just supposed to know, but have never been taught. 

If you are not keeping up with some of these underlying workplace skills, though you ‘get it’ and are driving digital transformation, it could reflect poorly on you in terms of your online and digital profile. Here are five areas to consider getting an upgrade on:

Looking good and being an interesting human onlineWe are talking LinkedIn here because that’s where everyone in business is, and if I look for you on Google it’s your LinkedIn profile which is going to come up. If you have an old or poor photo or a weak profile that isn’t very interesting, then why should I be interested? People will judge the type of person they think you are. Not only will people judge you but AI will as well when collecting information about you online and if you don’t have enough factual content about you, you will show up badly.

From an internal perspective too (think millennials), if you just put your business achievements in a very corporate way, its not very human. The sort of things you need in a social paragraph in the About Section on LinkedIn, answering the questions: do you have a dog? run marathons? teach hockey or rugby? have a family? cycle? take part in a charity.?

Improving all these small things around you makes you much more attractive to work for and as a human. You should view your online appearance in the same way as getting to know someone in a polite face-to-face conversation

Upgrade your digital time management – I clearly remember going on a two day time management course years ago, learning how to organise by ticking boxes of forms for my tasks, objectives and goals. Now without any training on how to manage ourselves online or on our computers, many of us allow our lives to be bogged down by emails, with potential clients, sales team etc. Likewise do we allow people to steal our time by being able to access our calendars to book endless meetings and let’s not forget we allow our phones to distract us the whole time.

You can easily save an hour a day by getting these things under control – that is a working month a year you’ll get back by figuring out how to better manage your time digitally. Think about how best to collaboration online and set some guidelines.  

Tidy your digital roomare your apps an unorganised mess? do you have 100 files on your desktop? do you have a secure password manager or an Excel file called passwords? Can you access any file or documents on any device? Can you operate the video conferencing software? These are just some housekeeping items that are costing you time and make you look less digitally savvy, especially when being watched by a 25-year-old digital ninja. 

Become digitally curiousBecause the digital world is so vast with limitless options, the only way to learn new things is by asking for help and by being curious. I call this: OneAppManship something I borrowed from my brotherin-law who is currently Chief Constable of Sussex Police. When I asked him how he kept up with all the digital technology and transformation he is responsible for he said “I play OneAppManship with people. I show them a few interesting things I am doing then I ask them to do the same. This can be at work but also in social settings, you will be amazed by what you will learn. 

So that is just five areas of what I call Digital Common Sense. Not only will upgrading these basics be good for you but teaching these skills will help people feel part of the journey of digital transformation. They will be better equipped, more productive, tuned in and ready to embrace change.


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