Creating a successful digital transformation in your company is not an easy task. As described in one of my earlier blogs, it needs seven factors to be successful[1]. But what does this mean for you as a leader? How to be an example for your team and to motivate people to change? How to lead your teams towards a more sustainable business model that involves a digital proposition? I have been asked many times what is my secret to being able to transform teams and people. For a long time I did not realise what my secret was. Since I found out, I would love to share this with you and therefore I will uncover the secret to a successful change and digital transformation in this blog. And it is not as difficult as it may seem…


What is happening in organizations during a digital transformation?

Preparing a digital transformation requires setting up a clear path towards new – or accelerating existing – business processes, culture, competencies, business models and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements using digital technologies.[2] During this process of changing the business, a lot of interdependent factors are changed. When adapting or creating new technologies, processes are impacted, behaviours need to be changed and customers triggered.


What is missing in a lot of digital transformations?

The responsibility for a digital transformation lies at the shoulders of the leaders of the organisation. Not only on the shoulders of the CEO, but on the shoulders of every manager from middle to higher management. In a lot of transformations I have seen managers fall into the trap of focussing obsessively on results, outcomes and reaching deadlines, leaving employees and team members behind in learning what is needed and learning new competencies to be able to cope with this transformation. Next to maintaining quality results and business outcomes, facilitating and guiding your employees during this digital transformation is and should be your main task.

At the same time, during these challenging times, employees often do not know, fully understand or oversee what is expected of them or what is the exact idea of the change. Besides that, one of the comments I hear the most is that “we are changing too much at the same time”. They need support or want to share their ideas and feedback about changes ahead.


What could servant leadership mean in these situations?

The approach of servant leadership is an excellent way of creating space for your employees and yourself as a manager. Servant leadership means seeing your role as manager as serving employees in their exploration and growth, providing tangible and emotional support as your employees develop and grow[3]. Servant leadership means that the act giving and service are central to your work. That not only helps your employees but also yourself. By asking your employees for their opinions, advice, feedback and ideas you hear the ‘real’ information and you find out how the customer is actually affected and treated. You will notice the real effect of your policies. By consequently asking your employees for ideas and improvements, you not only receive the best ideas, it in the end saves you time because your employees are more motivated to implement changes to which they contributed.

Serving your employees does not mean that you do everything they say. It means listening to your employees, supporting them, giving them feedback regarding their questions, sharing updates, coaching them in their development and learning opportunities and providing room for their ideas and problems.


Is servant leadership really that easy?

It sounds so easy and simple and it sometimes is. But in some organizations, it is a long road to travel. This kind of leadership requires trust and a safe environment. Servant leadership entails listening to your team members, being humble and open. It requires courage, in the sense that you need to be courageous enough to acknowledge that you want their input because you see them as experts. It means admitting as a manager that you do not have all the answers and that is not an easy task for everyone.

Great, high performing teams also need a safe environment, meaning an environment where you will not be punished when you make a mistake[4]. One of the basic needs of human beings in working together and therefore an indispensable factor in your leadership. Servant leadership could be your foundation for creating that safe environment.


Could servant leadership be the solution?

Servant leadership could provide the foundation for a safe and trustworthy environment. These kind of environments make people thrive and no other measure can surpass that, as is also proven by extensive research of Harvard Business Review. Using a safe and trustworthy environment as the foundation for your digital transformation creates an open field for excitement about the new vision. It involves employees and inspires them to present ideas to further develop new offerings to customers.

Personally, I belief in the enormous power of connecting people with each other and throughout an organization. As a leader it is a humble task to facilitate a great working environment for everyone.


Please let me know what you think of this article by putting your reaction in the comments. Thanks!


[1] Source: Blog – How to create a successful digital business transformation:

[2] Source: Blog – The origin and meaning of Digital Transformation:

[3] Source: HBR –

[4] Source: HBR –

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