Why Data Centric Leadership Matters In A Time Of Crisis

Why Data Centric Leadership Matters In A Time Of Crisis

In these uncertain and volatile times, the spotlight has been cast on leaders to take charge and effectively manage the situation. This is a tall order - leaders must bear the weight of the entire organization, balance priorities like employees’ health and safety with financial stability, and make consequential decisions on the go. How they respond to their employees, customers and the community will set the stage for their organization in the long-run.

We have seen how government leaders - like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - have risen to the task, where their swift, decisive actions have helped to contain the outbreak domestically.

In the same vein, business leaders have been confronted with novel challenges like never before. They must contend with an ever-evolving situation and safeguard the interests of employees, customers, and ensure operational resilience throughout these different phases.

Throughout the different stages of this journey, how leaders respond in the face of adversity is critical. They need to build on a strong foundation of data-driven decision-making, and consistently turn to data as an objective source of truth to inform intuitive decisions, quickly and confidently. By having a data-first mindset, they will be better equipped to set the stage for the rest of their company and unearth exponential benefits both in the short and long run.

For instance, when the pandemic hit - amidst a rising number of infections and the introduction of containment measures - leaders had to first stabilizetheir business. They needed to rely on concrete data to implement necessary precautions and measures, so as to protect their employees’ health and safety. At the same time, leaders also had to pivot their short-term operations to adapt to a new business environment and meet customers’ needs.

A few months in, some regions have started to enter the next phase; recovery. Asia Pacific is gradually easing lockdown measures, with South Korea, China, Australia, Japan and Singapore cautiously re-opening their economies in a phased approach. As businesses look towards shifting back to work and re-opening, leaders must rely on data to put in place the planning, logistics and communications they need to resume operations. To support businesses with this, Joel Rappolt, CEO of RocketBoots, developed a software solution that leverages data to help manage social distancing in physical spaces. They built on their existing BeeHive product, which collects and analyzes data from different sources, and developed new data modelling and reporting solutions to help organizations optimize staff scheduling, maximize space utilization and effectively manage compliance. With this, businesses can make more informed decisions as they look to reopen and restart operations.

It remains crucial for business leaders to also continue adopting a long-term strategy for growth. The business landscape and consumer behaviours are likely to look drastically different in the post-pandemic world, and leaders must set their business up for success in this new reality.

No matter at which stage businesses find themselves at, leaders must rely on data as a valuable resource to formulate a sound go-to-market strategy, and to guide their employees ahead. By asserting their ability to understand and work with data, and leveraging that as a strategic tool to lead, they will be able to effectively steer their organization and drive both short and long-term business resilience.

Fostering trust through data

For one, data is central to building trust within an organization. This is especially important in these tentative times, where there is a heightened sense of uncertainty and stress among the team. Businesses have to constantly parse through exponential amounts of information, a majority of which is likely to be misleading or redundant. Leaders need to ensure that they can issue a clear directive to inform their next steps - data serves as that single source of truth, to provide an objective and complete picture of the situation. This fosters trust within the organization, where business leaders and employees alike have a shared understanding of data as a key driver behind decisions.

Businesses also cannot just rely on a specialist team of data experts and analysts, but instead, grant access to data and insights across the team. In doing so, there is increased visibility and transparency on key performance indicators - employees can trust the data to provide a complete picture on the business and in turn, better identify key priorities and areas of improvement. With teams trusted to make the right decisions - having access to relevant data insights - the decision-making process can be decentralized, allowing for more nimble operations. This also allows for silos to be broken down, as teams can readily share information, collaborate, and build high-trust relationships with one another.

Data as a strategic asset

As leaders navigate the new challenges of today and balance both short and long-term priorities, they need to be intentional and purposeful in how they drive organizational change. Digital transformation will certainly be at the top of everyone’s agenda - but this cannot be just another buzzword. Business leaders must genuinely appreciate how each digital touchpoint translates into a data touchpoint, which can be harnessed for crucial insights. They must demonstrate that they understand the value of data, and leverage it as a strategic asset to motivate business decisions.

Beyond lip service, leaders must take concrete action and invest in not just technology, but the people and processes required to establish a strong foundation of a data-first organization. When they successfully build a strong data culture, the whole company will be empowered to see, understand and leverage data to make agile decisions in an uncertain business environment. The Tableau Blueprint serves as an effective guide to building a flexible data environment, which can evolve alongside enterprise needs, increase analytics proficiency and inspire a data-first community. The organization as a collective, will then be able to capitalize on data as a meaningful asset to thrive in the long term.

It is prudent to recognize that at the core of data centric leadership, there must be empathy. It is an uncharted territory for most businesses. Effective leaders must understand, acknowledge and listen to the concerns and questions of their customers, partners, and employees to successfully navigate through this new normal.

 
Author: JY Pook
Source: Forbes
 

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