For me, leadership is ensuring the provision of services and motivation in an organization by a person who, through interaction, directs the orientation of the actions of individuals and groups towards the realization of predetermined goals.

In the course of my research work, I have analysed two studies that are intended to show the current state of leadership in digitalization. The first study examines the competencies of executives in connection with digitalisation and their appropriation. The second study relates to concrete changes for managers related to digitalisation.

Study 1: Skills of managers

The first study was carried out by the German Society for Personnel Research (DGFP 2016). An online survey collected data on leadership in the context of digitalisation. Participants included more than 300 professionals with leadership responsibilities across all company sizes and industries.

In the study, the study participants were asked to evaluate competences related to digitalisation. The main competencies according to the ranking of the study are:

  • Collaboration with employees (2.55)
  • Collaboration with other executives (2.69)
  • Enterprise Network (2.72)
  • Communication and transparency (2.77)
  • Development of leadership skills (2,89)
  • Implementation of projects (2.91)
  • Use of collaboration technology (3,16)
  • Social media use (3,17).

Managers should then assess the main ways to acquire these skills. The results are also presented in a ranking:

  • Learning by Doing (2.01),
  • Networking outside the company (2,20),
  • Private use of technologies (2,25),
  • Use of the company’s technology (2,31),
  • Exchange with employees (2,41) and
  • Training internally or externally (2.96).

In both cases, it appears that managers are increasingly developing skills through their own learning methods or in exchange with other managers in order to introduce new technologies and improve collaboration with employees.

Furthermore, according to the study, there are behaviors that managers want to change in the course of digitalization. These were also ranked by the executives. The most important are:

  • Change in management communication (1.74)
  • Promoting digital business models (1.88)
  • Hierarchy-free thinking (2,06)
  • Active use of new methods (2,10)
  • Active use of modern technology (2,44).

Study 2: Concrete changes for managers

The study by the consulting company Capgemini (2015) examines the skills of executives associated with digitalization in their implementation. The results come from the Capgemini Change Management study, for which more than 180 executives were interviewed on various topics.

The results were grouped into seven categories, which correspond to the changes considered essential by managers in the context of digitalisation. These changes are listed and explained below (Capgemini 2016).

  • Networking: Cooperation is increasingly taking place in teams that cooperate in higher self-organization.
  • Knowledge management: Collective knowledge replaces individual knowledge – for example, experienced experts should rely on third-party knowledge, as topics become much more complex.
  • Flat hierarchies: Virtual and short-lived teams replace bureaucratic and hierarchical team structures.
  • Communication: Virtual workstations in different time zones change communication.
  • Influence: Informal groups and opinion leaders can have a big impact on the success of an organization.
  • Working methods: Part of virtual teamwork is characterized by interactions and non-routine processes.
  • Speed: In some areas of work, the pace of innovation and thus also the rhythm of change is increased.


Both studies show that managers are increasingly developing skills through their own learning methods or in exchange with other managers in order to introduce new technologies and improve collaboration with employees. Executive behaviors should also change massively. A number of recommendations were made to this in Study 2.


DGFP. (2017). Digital Leadership Readiness. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from

Capgemini. (2016). Digital Leadership – Leadership development in the digital age. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from

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Gender note: I have used the male form for easier reading. If no explicit distinction is made, women, miscellaneous and men as well as people of any origin and nation are always meant. Read more.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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