Digital Leadership - a big challenge for companies

New digital technologies, infrastructures, and applications do not stop at the principles of leadership. No, leadership is the prerequisite for a successful digital transformation of a company.

The decisive factor for digital change is a cultural change, i.e. the anchoring of digital leadership in corporate culture. For the Executive Board and the company management, this means giving top-down impulses but also the freedom to deal with the new instruments and IT structures. The bottom-up experience then triggers a cultural change. A prerequisite is always a common understanding of the new management structures and processes, which must be clearly formulated beforehand, as well as talent management adapted to the digital change.

What does digital leadership mean in concrete terms for managers?

In principle, digital leadership is a further development of the participative leadership style. However, employees are not only involved in decision-making processes, but they are also co-decision-makers. Due to the increasing lack of hierarchies, decision-making authority is process- and customer-oriented. For managers, this means creating maximum transparency of information, which is driven by the use of social media. In other words, managers must learn or try out a completely new form of management communication. Basically, a trend towards try-and-error can be observed in digital transformation, i.e. mistakes are allowed, almost provoked. The manager is then responsible for helping the person concerned to learn from it. A further task is to further promote the networking of competencies within the company, i.e. increased cross-functional cooperation between managers and employees. In addition, there are the new digital methods and instruments – be it in performance assessment, communication or project management – which managers have to learn and actively use in their role model function. Increasingly disruptive innovations represent a great challenge for leaders because it is important to keep a cool head even in uncertain times.

Digital leaders lead participatively, drive innovation, actively use new methods and media, thereby transforming the company digitally. The goal is to make the company faster, more agile and more flexible by using the influence of digitalization on the networking of competencies and thus leadership. But most companies still have a long way to go before this leadership style is established.  Because one thing needs to be understood: Digital transformation is not only a change in IT structures but above all a cultural change.

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