While digital transformation has been a key part of the enterprise landscape since the first content management systems started appearing in the mid '90s, the rate of change over the last two years has been phenomenal. While some would argue the pandemic drove this change, in reality, digital transformation was well underway before COVID-19.

What the pandemic did do was to speed up the rate of transformation, which put a strain on organizational leaders to manage the fallout. While technology enabled remote working, it couldn’t, and didn’t, offer a way to manage the emerging remote and hybrid work models. That task was left to enterprise leaders, who didn’t have much of a blueprint on how to manage the challenges of these kinds of working.

Since the emergence of the pandemic, leaders have been working out — largely through trial and error — how to manage workforces that are not necessarily in the same building, state or even in the same country.

Much of this year, in terms of leadership, has been about that. About leaders learning how to manage remote teams, new technologies, changing employee experiences and engagement as well as what is emerging at the end of the year as probably the biggest challenge enterprises have faced since the pandemic: the so-called "Great Resignation." All of this is reflected in the Top 10 leadership posts in CMSWire for this year. Here they are:

10. The Role of Organizational Leaders in Building Employee Engagement 

A lot of the discussion and research on employee engagement, or lack thereof, in the past year has focused on employee responsibility and actions that result in a lack of engagement, it is also clear that company culture and the actions of organizational leaders are creating problems too. However, Gallup research published in February shows that the actual culprit in engagement stories are company managers and executives. In fact, Gallup, found that managers are the ones that have the most significant impact on engagement, accounting for around 70% of the variations in employee engagement scores.

9. Are Your Culture-Building Initiatives Actually Hurting Your Culture? 

Building a strong workplace culture is a lot like exercising. Exercise is critical to maintaining a healthy body. Nurturing culture is critical to maintaining a healthy workplace. Most adults know full well that exercise is important to their health. Most workplace leaders know full well that culture is important to their business. But perhaps the most important similarity is this: just as exercising improperly or with bad form can actually do more harm than good.

8. Learning From Digital Transformation Failures

According to a McKinsey global survey of executives, the pandemic caused companies to accelerate their digital transformations by three to four years — in a matter of months. Survey respondents also expected most changes to last, and were making the investments required to make sure that changes stick. Research suggests that 70% of digital transformation projects fail. So, with more organizations than ever embarking — or in the middle of — digital transformation initiatives, how do we make sure our projects survive?

7. 'Better, Simpler Strategy': A Blueprint for Creating Business Value 

Back when I taught marketing, Myles Suer wrote, I would start the first class by asking students a simple question: What did you learn about the purpose of business in your finance class? Invariably they'd say the purpose of a business is to make money. I'd then ask, "How does a business make money?" Most students would stumble with this one. The smartest response is, "It depends on the kind of business you're in."

Learning Opportunities

6. 5 Myths About Digital Transformation 

A 2018 Couchbase survey found the majority of CIOs believed those companies that did not keep up with digital innovation would last less than four years before going out of business or being bought by a competitor — caused by a downward spiral of declining customer experience, loss of customers and a fall in revenue and resources.  The impact of digital transformation is huge, which can make it seem like an insurmountable challenge.

5. Be Ready to Handle Ethical Dilemmas in the 2021 Workplace

Cultural controversies are now litigated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From social media to Sunday church, from newspapers to late-night comedy shows, from family dinners to classrooms, there is no avoiding cultural warfare, no missing the us vs. them narratives. These controversies about who we are and what we believe have arrived in the American workplace. That is for the best. In 2020, the trend in corporate culture has been to acknowledge issues of identity, class, diversity, conscience and privilege.

4. 5 Necessary Human Resources Skillsets for the 2020s 

Remember those old-fashioned vice president of human resources roles? Or human resources director? Ok, so maybe those haven't gone away. Indeed's 12 common HR jobs report last month signals no major shifts or changes in what we've always viewed as traditional HR roles (i.e. director of human resources, human resources manager, recruiter, employment specialist, etc.)

3. HR Leaders Share Their Employee Retention Strategies Amid the Great Resignation

The quit rate for US jobs isn’t slowing down in this so-called Great Resignation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported in its latest research the “quits level” and rate in June increased to 3.9 million (239,000 more quits) and 2.7 percent, respectively.If you’re an HR leader, this is time for a Super Bowl performance in terms of the employee-retention game: the Tom Brady kind of performance and not the Scott Norwood kind.

2. Does Your Company Need an Employee Vaccination Policy?

The pace of COVID vaccinations continues to pick up momentum in 2021. As of mid-April, authorities report 825 million people have received vaccinations, with 192 million people in the U.S. alone getting at least their first dose. As that number grows, discussion has turned to re-opening shuttered parts of the economy and the potential requirement to show proof of vaccination, a so-called “vaccination passport,” prior to entering a country.

1.The Cure for Burnout Is Not Self-Care 

The cure for burnout is not self-care — that's the message from the new book by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D and Amelia Nagoski, DMA — "Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle." Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement to work from home (WFH), we have been inundated with articles and advice on dealing with workplace burnout. Invariably we hear about the need to “book quiet time,” “take control of your time commitments,” “make time for reflection/meditation,” “take Fridays off,” “say no to non-critical meetings,” “triage your emails” ... the list goes on.