Is there a skills gap in change management with leaders?

Jim van Hulst has worked in several leadership functions at EY, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, and Johnson Controls International. His positions have included Director Talent Management, Global Head Professional Development, and Global Learning Technology Leader. Jim has an MSc. in Learning Technology from the University of Sheffield and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Arnhem/Nijmegen. He also holds a diploma in Business Management and Leadership from the Rotterdam School of Management, and he completed his MBA in 2020 from MSM, The Netherlands. He is a frequently asked speaker and author of numerous articles. Jim founded Jignite recently in 2021.

Jim van Hulst, owner Jignite

Is leadership adaptability towards change a skills gap?

In research from the World Economic Forum (2018, p.58) on the Future of Jobs, several barriers for adoption of new skills have been identified. In Figure 1, two substantial barriers sit with leadership. Leaders either not show an interest in the adoption of technology (29%) or there is a skills gap (59%) within the leaders themselves. So to answer the question; is leadership adaptability towards change a skills gap? First of all, we can say for almost 60 per cent yes and second, more surprising, a lack of interest of almost 30 per cent.

Figure 1. Barriers to adoption of new technologies (Source: World Economic Forum, 2018).

Sivathanu & Pillai (2018, p10) suggested that leadership styles need to become more open. However, they need to cope with changes in both culture and structure towards Industry 4.0.

Kotter (1996, p. 218-219) mentioned that leaders should embrace change. He mentions that leaders should not be on the defensive end of change or fear from it. Kotter identified intention and willingness to grow and develop additional leadership skills as a differentiator. Either for themselves, their families, and their companies or all.

What are the key traits for digital leadership?

MIT Sloan Management Review (2018) and Deloitte identified the key traits of effective digital leadership. These traits are based on their global survey of more than 4,300 managers, executives, and analysts. In addition, 17  more interviews with executives and thought leaders were conducted. These traits include  most importantly:

  1. enabling the organization by providing vision and purpose
  2. creating conditions to experiment
  3. empowering people to think differently
  4. getting people to collaborate across boundaries.

In conclusion of this short article, we could identify that in many companies a skills gap occur to deal with change. Is this also the case in your company?

Second, and above all: the key traits listed for digital leadership are listed and seem simple. However, they are very complex to initiate. Connect with me to discuss options for your company.

Read also my other article on either replacing or developing your employees.


  1. Kotter, J. (1996). Leiderschap bij verandering. Den Haag: SDU uitgevers.
  2. Sivathanu, B., and Pillai, R. (2018). “Smart HR 4.0 – how industry 4.0 is disrupting HR”, Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 7-11.
  3. MIT Sloan review (2018). Coming of Age Digitally. Retrieved Last visited December 24, 2019.

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