Top takeaways on developing digitally literate leadership for heritage leaders

This collection of takeaways is part of a set of resources from Developing digitally literate leadership in heritage organisations. We asked our cohort of heritage leaders who worked with us to develop their digital confidence and leadership through 2020-21 for the insights they’d most like to share with other heritage sector leaders, in ‘takeaway’ form. For more support and resources see our Pathway on ‘Developing digitally literate leadership in heritage organisations’, of which this is a part.  

Organisational rhythm and culture

“It’s good to take the time to reflect from a different angle and really look at what kind of footprint your organisation has, its assets and its digital literacy.”

“Embracing and embedding digital in your organisation will help provide clarity in telling your story, what you stand for, and why you are relevant in the world.”

“Organisational and team culture is as at least as much a success factor in digital transformation as is technical capability.”

“Normalise thinking about the digital as part of the everyday.”

Personal confidence

“Lead by example so that staff don’t fear failure, it’s all learning.”

“Explain your ideas to people. See what the reaction is. If it’s positive, keep going. If it’s confused, work on your pitch. If that doesn’t get a better response, revisit your idea.”

“Start with something very, very simple”

“Give yourself (and the organisation) more time than you think you’ll need”

Strategic thinking

“Talk about business needs and solutions, not technology.”

“Be clear about the outcomes you want to achieve through digital leadership and be prepared to flex, change or ignore the process you had planned.”

“Don’t assume you know the answer.”

“Digital transformation requires senior leadership support. Whilst this doesn’t mean they need to be digital experts, it needs more than visible commitment, it needs an understanding of how digital can transform a business and the ability to make decisions that enable this.”

Developing your team

“Harness the enthusiasm of early adopters to champion the project and build momentum.”

“Everyone on the staff has a contribution to make.”

“Every day should be a school day and an opportunity to learn – even if that is learning what doesn’t work.”

“Revisit your ICT provision – map it, SWOT it and get a strategy to improve it.”

*These insights were  informed by ‘Leading the Sector’ , Culture24’s professional development course in Digital Leadership for a cohort of 16 leaders from medium-to-large heritage organisations across the UK. The course was part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage and ran from April 2020 to May 2021. Project partners were Golant Innovation/The Audience Agency and specialist advisors were Professor Ross Parry, University of Leicester and Dr Nick Winterbotham.