e-Leadership Skills

e-Leadership Skills

Every country, in every continent seeks economic growth, and such growth creates wealth and quality jobs. To be able to grow further the economy, and compete with the rest of the world, Europe needs a significant amount of e-leaders, people capable of driving successful innovation who will take advantage on the latest advances of digital technologies. Continuous innovation brings about opportunities for competitiveness and growth, but it also brings about needs of specific skills to grasp these opportunities. Technology trends include those of mobility, cloud computing, big data analytics, social media technologies, Internet of Things, secure systems, microelectronics, parallel systems, robotics, photonics and the list goes on.

Leadership has been said to be a quality that you are born with, but this is not entirely true. Leaders are also made and grown through the experience, skills, knowledge, and attitude, which a person manages to garnish. This is more so for e-leaders that would have acquired the knowledge and skills in strategy, technology and business. But e-leaders don’t happen to come along by chance. Countries, including Malta, need to have a concerted effort, or better, a serious Agenda, in making these very important individuals. The Agenda should include monitoring, benchmarking and forecasting; industry education and training; platform-based online career support, recruitment and job search; better coordination on policy alignment and funding; National high-tech innovation strategies and policy commitment; and last but not least, the promotion and awareness of e-leadership.

Key players need to come out of their comfort zone to make e-leadership more of a reality. In particular,
Universities and business schools need to move away from traditional behaviours, anthologies, curriculum standards, and existing programmes. New players are likely to come up with offers in this domain, or take over, should the traditional education institutions fail to react. E-Leadership curriculum profiles are developed by a team of academics and industry representatives, but supported by educational experts;
Industry needs to specify their needs in more detail, and also need to train people in order to become more creative and innovative. There is a need to deal with non-conformance behaviour since this is often the way to innovate;
Policy makers need to set the right framework conditions, including fostering joint initiatives with industry and universities.

The EU has mostly led the initiative on e-leadership, starting initially in 2013 with focus on large enterprises, and was enlarged in 2014 to include SMEs, gazelles and start-ups. There have been some good examples around Europe that have stolen the limelight. These include the New Bulgarian University, Aarhus University, Antwerp Management School, Henley Business School, and Croatia’s Algebra University College. The Masters Programme in Knowledge Based Entrepreneurship by the University of Malta is the closest on e-leadership, as a home-grown course.

According to the EU e-leadership index from the 27 EU countries, Malta does not fair badly. This is due to the friendly national policies on start-ups, and the mix of high digital activities with entrepreneurship. In the future we will expect that Malta will also move closer to e-leadership Curriculums and initiatives.

Carm Cachia
eSkills Malta Foundation