Skip to main content

Digital Leadership

Digital Leadership Skills for Students

About this guide

Picture of Screens This guide provides an overview of the digital leadership capabilities students need to acquire to be resilient in their working life. Aimed at final year students it may also be useful for postgraduate students. It applies some of the framework and the resources of Digital U which was set-up by Staffordshire University to support the development of University staff digital capabilities, with acknowledgement to JISC

Author: Vicki McGarvey, Learning & Information Services Manager, The Library, Staffordshire University @vickimcgarvey

For any content & design authored by Vicki McGarvey Creative Commons License Attribution + Noncommercial BY-NC - free to reuse, remix as long as you attribute


What are digital capabilities?

If you want to work, learn and live effectively in today's digital environment you need to be digitally capable. This is more than being IT proficient, digital capabilities cover a wide range of skills,  including:

  • the use of digital technology tools
  • evaluating data and information 
  • communicating and collaborating online to produce and share ideas

‚ÄčThe type of skills you require in these areas will differ according to your job role and will change as new tools, technologies and roles come along.

What is Digital Leadershp?

This refers to the ability to harness digital technologies to facilitate and enhance your leadership skills, specifically as you begin to develop relationships with colleagues and customers beyond the physical organisation. 

You do not have to be in a leadership position to possess and demonstrate digital leadership capabilities, leadership can be shown by using technology to improve processes and provide efficiencies, enhance communication and creatively illustrate new approaches. 

Digital Leadership Capabilities

Josie Ahlquist, digital leadership educator, recommends that students develop the following 10 digital leadership capabilities

  1. Online self-awareness and reflection of digital profile
  2. Awareness of emerging technology tools and platforms
  3. Content analysis, sorting accuracy and quality from fake or misinterpreted information
  4. Establishing personal virtual boundaries including privacy, managing time spent online and overall Wellness
  5. Digital decision making strategies: based in positive, authentic and constructive activity
  6. Integration of digital technologies into leadership presence building communities 
  7. Building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) - a network where you learn from people
  8. Articulating and executing professional branding blended with career strategy online
  9. Cyber conflict resolution and mediation
  10. Using social media for social good 

Need to know more ...

Useful Resources

Multimedia Resources

  • Charlene Li, on Giving up control:  Leadership in the Digital Era Video length: 10 minutes
  • Digital Leadership, Empowering New Ideas: Sofie Sandell at TEDxUCL 10 minutes