Hong Kong Bosses Feel They May Have the Wrong Digital Leaders

Twenty-five percent said that they are not confident or unsure that they have the right leadership to implement digital change.

One in four Hong Kong business leaders feels that they may not have the right digital leaders to implement change.

The conclusion comes from a new Robert Half study that examined how Hong Kong companies are preparing their next generation of digital leaders. Compared to other countries, Hong Kong business leaders are the least confident of their digital leadership talent.  

The problem is not a lack of talent. Instead, according to the study, the main issue is management support. Almost half (48%) cited this as the main reason for the low confidence, followed by resistance to change (45%), lack of change management experience (36%), and lack of technical know-how (30%).

The results are especially glaring, as digital technologies are expected to propel companies. Advances in cloud computing, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence are expected to contribute around 60% to Hong Kong's GDP, according to an IDC study.

"There's no doubt the ongoing skills shortage in technology remains a key challenge for companies looking to onboard talented digital leaders. Our research also shows companies should focus on breaking down any cultural barriers that might hamper Hong Kong's new generation of leaders, such as change resistance or a lack of support or training," said Elaine Lam, associate director of Robert Half.

Choosing the right digital leader is not easy, either. The study noted that today's digital leaders need to have more than technical know-how and be proficient in change management and agile collaborative leadership.

The Robert Half research also suggests that different industries and job functions prioritize different skills and traits needed to lead an organization into the digital future.

Amongst Hong Kong survey respondents, Hong Kong CIOs and CFOs have similar concerns when it comes to ensuring digital success. Both picked out technical know-how (69% and 55% respectively) and change management experience (51% and 57%) as the top three critical skills needed to lead IT departments. However, for CIOs, communication skills (55%) are also essential, while CFOs view the involvement of specialists in decision-making (55%) as more of a priority.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ profile of a digital leader. Strong digital leaders are not necessarily defined by their high-level technical skills or experience or background in an IT environment. Today’s digital leader must be able to navigate change and uncertainty as well as understand the wider impact of technology on their business and industry, which means there is significant fluidity in what it takes to be a strong digital leader,” said Lam.