Business Mentoring helps your Head of Automation become a good leader

Business Mentoring helps your Head of Automation become a good leader

23 November 2020
Gerrit Sarens
Gerrit Sarens
  • Reply BrightKnight and Ambits aim to have people embrace automation. Appointing a Head of Automation is a good step in the right direction to make automation successful. Supporting the Head of Automation to be(come) a good leader will boost success.

    The message behind this partnership is straightforward: do not only invest in technology but also make sure you have the right leadership in place, especially for crucial functions like the Head of Automation.

  • RPA as a side project

  • There seems to be a reluctance to appoint someone to lead RPA initiatives. As if magically the RPA pilot will grow into a fully fleshed-out program, delivering automation across business lines without someone at the wheel.

    Alternatively, someone who showed interest in RPA might get pushed into the role and tasked with managing an RPA Centre of Excellence next to their current responsibilities. Surely it can’t be more than a couple of hours here and there, right? In the initial phase, when operating models and roles are being defined and approaches are being rolled out, often with the help of an external service provider, it might just be enough.

  • Recipe for failure

  • However, as RPA takes off this inevitably leads to issues. Without a full-fledged Head of Automation, things go south quickly. Departments do not communicate with each other, there is a lack of central authority and the advantages of scaling RPA do not materialize.

  • A Head of Automation

  • It’s clear that a Head of Automation needs to be appointed, and preferably from the start. What does the Head of Automation do? This person is the face and voice of RPA within the organization, collaborating with all levels and departments to optimize RPA throughout.

    A couple of responsibilities include:

    • Owning the operational model for delivery, in line with operational requirements
    • Evaluating, validating & prioritizing candidate processes
    • Accountability for delivery & service management
    • Responsibility for tracking & reporting
    • Managing relationships with IT
    • Central escalation point for operations, IT & third parties

    Having a technically competent person in this function can do wonders and allow RPA to take off. However, research has shown that technology implementations do not fail because of the wrong technology platform, vendor, or integrator. Implementations generally fail because of people-related issues.

    This means that the Head of Automation should also be a strong leader. Finding a Head of Automation with a decent technical background and strong leadership capabilities sounds like a mission impossible.

  • Enter a Business Mentor

  • Reply BrightKnight and Ambits partner up for successful RPA implementations. Once the Head of Automation is appointed, the Ambits Business Mentor supports him/her in tackling the people issues that pop-up during the RPA roll-out.

    Having stood in the same shoes and having led change in organizations as a business leader, the Business Mentor gives hands-on leadership advice to the Head of Automation but equally has affinity with the technical side of the job.

    Want to know more about the value of Business Mentoring to support your newly appointed Head of Automation? Contact us.

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • not or inadequately trained in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
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