Charlene LiCharlene Li, Principal Analyst at Altimeter and author of bestselling books GroundswellOpen Leadership, and The Engaged Leader, spoke to a packed room at a Women in Consulting event last week. The topic of her presentation was “Leadership in the Digital Age.” Here are some key insights and take-aways from her talk, which focused on leadership, culture and transformation. 

Leaders leverage social media and social networking tools to demonstrate their expertise and to build stronger relationships with their audience, be they employees, customers or partners. Tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and internal collaboration platforms like Yammer and Slack allow leaders to be open, transparent and authentic while engaging with their audience. For internal communication, social platforms are often preferred over email.

As a leader you can use social media to listen to what customers, partners, employees, and even competitors are saying about your brand. For example, IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty “listens” via Twitter but doesn’t use it to post updates. She prefers to post videos to YouTube. It’s important to select the social platform that is most relevant to your audience.

Telling stories is a great way to engage with your audience. People love stories. They have a beginning, middle and end and have a way of drawing people in and captivating them.

The biggest pushback leaders give for not engaging via social tools is that they either don’t have time or it’s not their job. Charlene advises them that as a leader it is their job and they can accomplish much in just 15 minutes per day. Engage strategically. Listen and share a story. Tools like Hubspot, Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to schedule updates and enable you to measure impact. 

According to Ms. Li, “culture eats strategy for breakfast every day.” Happy employees are empowered employees. Digital tools can help leaders drive culture change by building trust and integrity. Company values are critical to establish and help guide the organization when important decisions need to be made. Her company and many others have employees take the StrengthFinder assessment and list their key strengths on business cards or profiles for others to see. This allows people to become more familiar with each other’s skills and personalities to improve collaboration.

Disruption in an industry happens when two out of these three areas are altered: customers, organization or ecosystem. For example, Uber created disruption in the taxi cab industry by altering the ecosystem and how customers requested and paid for a ride.

Ms. Li ended her talk by summarizing the top priorities for digital transformation in 2016. These are:

  • Customer experience
  • Culture and leadership
  • Content strategy
  • Digital ecosystem
  • Paid social

Areas to keep a watch on but not necessary to prioritize now include:

  • Wearables
  • Visual Web
  • Internet of Things
  • Artificial IQ
  • Virtual Reality

For more information on Ms. Li and Altimeter Group, visit or