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Data-driven leadership: What it is and why it matters

A recent report has found that 97.2% of companies are investing in big data and AI. This cannot simply be brushed off as merely future-proofing the business, there are deeper drivers behind this vast investment. Companies are seeking to shift to being data-driven. That is, businesses who can rely on big data, machine learning and similar technologies to be at the forefront in leading their decision-making processes.

Leveraging data has the potential to accelerate businesses into more agile companies, whilst also ensuring that they can compete. Data-driven leadership is key within this, yet there is a real shortage of data analytics skills. Despite huge investments in technology, just 31% of top companies believe they have created a data-driven organisation. There is great potential as a leader to upskill in this area, and work with new technologies to improve outcomes for your company.

Here we delve into the benefits of data-driven leadership and the advantages of this approach for leaders and managers.

What are the benefits of data-driven leadership?

As the name suggests, data-driven leadership is about using data to inform, guide and lead decision making. Without analysis, context and relevance, data is useless. And so, it is the role of the leader to utilise information and statistics to plan and make operational decisions. Combining data analysis with industry knowledge and experience is the recipe for success.

Helping leaders make smart decisions

When it comes to making informed choices, data removes the guesswork. Previously management would rely solely on knowledge, experience and even gut feelings in order to make decisions. The risk being that judgements could be emotive or easily influenced by past incidents. By understanding how to analyse and interpret data, leaders can make smart decisions with little or no bias.

With the nature of decision-making evolving in this way, it is vital that managers understand how to best navigate unprecedented quantities of data. Taking a big data course can equip you with the knowledge to successfully manoeuvre through large data sets. Continually developing your skills in this area could be paramount for the success of your projects, and your career.

Leading teams more effectively

Clever analysis of data can offer a host of insights to help you lead teams more effectively. Data allows you to be agile, shifting resources and adapting to changing needs, and your team can benefit from this. Data has the ability to highlight when additional staffing could be beneficial through a project, or where adjusting resources could be a good strategic move.

Hand in hand with this is how you communicate with your team. Used well, data visualisation tools can greatly benefit how plans are conveyed. The benefits of clearly displaying data insight are twofold. It can assist leaders with getting teams on board, as well as act as a bridge between teams and management. By utilising their expertise in data analysis and visualisation, leaders can convincingly illustrate recommendations to stakeholders and upper management.

Improved outcomes

Data analysis has the ability to improve operational efficiency, assist with risk management, and improve relations both internally and externally. Get on track to becoming a data-driven organisation by grasping what is possible with data, and you’ll unlock its potential. Embracing data technology has the power to deliver consistently positive outcomes and drive sustainable profit, but to harness this, it is essential that leaders are equipped with the know-how.

Data science can have unrivalled influence over business direction, and it is down to leaders to be the connective link - turning insight into actionables. As well as being a vital everyday leadership skill, data analysis can be fundamental in planning an organisation’s future. Now is the time to master the tools your company has invested in. Consider upskilling in this area, undergo data handling training and become a data-driven leader.