The digital transformation is changing the world of work and, according to many authors, calls for agile leadership. An article on Agile Leadership can be found here. Before that, I would like to turn to the topic of digital leadership. But first of all, what is this digital transformation?

Due to the rapid growth of technologies, we are talking about a “digital transformation” in every area. Famous examples include the company Apple, which has fundamentally digitized the music industry and thus responded to the new customer’s wish: to have music always and everywhere. Kodak also had to fundamentally change its business model from analogue cameras to digital ones.

Whether digital transformation is an evolution or a revolution, many authors do not want to say and therefore speak of “digital (R)evolution”. Together with this, the leadership and the world of work are also changing. This can be found under the terms “Work 4.0” or “New Work”.

The change of leadership

The recent book on the subject summarizes the reasons for digital leadership as follows:

  • Each company will be a software company
  • Generation Y and Z want to participate and
  • middle management will be abolished.

Software companies of the

Holacracy, Management Y, Corporate Democracy… There are many frameworks for running companies agilely. At least according to the authors of these frameworks. The fact is, however, that companies are increasingly having to deal with technologies in every area. RFID chips in garments and software solutions for complex problems. This means that every area will soon come into contact with technology.

Generation Y and Z

The new generations want to have a say. According to the framework Management Y, young people also want to get “lust for work” again. What Generation Z really wants, however, is still a very controversial issue. Generation Y representatives have dreamed of starting a career when they started the job. Generation Z is more emotionally distant. For this generation, too, the workplace in the company is a part of life – but a clearly defined part. It is therefore again clearly separated between working time and private life. At least that is the current state of the studies.

The “middle management”

So the so-called “sandwich manager” who has the highest burn-out rate should be abolished? According to the authors, this development is to be promoted through frameworks such as Scrum. Short decision-making paths and “board-related” teams.

Giving up control, retaining leadership (Prof. Dr. Thorsten Petry)

digital leadership
It is a lasting balancing act between openness and leadership, which will be crucial for digital leadership leaders (Own presentation according to the idea of Petry 2016)

Agile leadership or digital leadership?

In literature, the terms agile leadership and digital leadership are currently used quite arbitrarily. That’s why I wrote a separate article on agile leadership. In the meantime, however, I would like to precede the statement with a quotation:

Agile leadership enables people to do more than they could alone (Boris Gloger)

According to the authors, the topic therefore seems to be highly relevant for the productivity of companies. This leads to the question: “What is digital leadership?”. Some answers can be found in the book mentioned above and are as follows:

  • Openness and trust towards employees
  • Speed through networking
  • Expertise and knowledge
  • Developing employees
  • Community of Practice
  • Transparency
  • Making successes visible
  • Big Picture

All these terms sound reasonable and have been supplemented by 5 rules:

  1. Recognize and respect the new power of your employees.
  2. Share information to build trust.
  3. Show curiosity and modesty.
  4. Call for openness.
  5. Forgive mistakes.

All in all, this sounds very exciting and requires a strong rethink in the minds of employees and managers. Exactly how this new type of leadership is implemented will be examined in detail in the course of my research.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

Petry, T. (2016). Digital Leadership: Successful leadership in times of the digital economy. Munich: Haufe Verlag.

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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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