What does the employee need and what does the situation require? If you want to achieve goals, you have to be able to control people flexibly, says Computerwoche.   Because not only the employees are very different, but also the tasks that have to be mastered in the company’s everyday life. Accordingly, the behaviour of managers must be flexible when running their areas and employees, the magazine continues.

The more flexible the boss, the better the employees

This is the title of an article in the worldthat says that the more flexible they are in their daily business, the more successful managers are. Sometimes it’s time to praise employees, to rebuke them. Sometimes active support is the right thing to do, sometimes the manager has to consciously withdraw.

Furthermore, the magazine says: In everyday business life, leadership is often reduced to giving instructions and giving feedback. The targeted development of the employees is left behind. And with that begins a vicious cycle. Because if managers do not always promote their employees, they cannot transfer more and more complex tasks to them over time.

Situational leadership = digital or agile employee leadership?

This situational or agile employee management has 4 styles, between which the manager has to “jump” permanently.  It therefore depends on the degree of maturity of the employee. There are 4 levels (source: The World):

  • Level 1: When confronted with a new task, the employee is neither able nor willing to solve it (for example, because he or she still lacks the necessary skills).
  • Stage 2: The employee is ready to tackle the new challenge, but he lacks the necessary competence to do so.
  • Level 3: The employee has the necessary skills for the new task, but he lacks the necessary motivation – for example, because he is still unsure.
  • Level 4: The employee has (for example, because he has mastered similar challenges more often) the skills to solve the task independently and is also ready to do so.
agile digital employee management
By Institute of Management Innovation, Prof. Dr. Waldemar Pelz – http://www.management-Innovation.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5114485

A leader should therefore choose a different management method, depending on the degree of maturity of the employee. This means gradually deviating from The Command & Control and convincing the employee. If you look at Wikipedia, the 4 styles are described as follows:

  • Leadership style 1: With a low maturity of the employees, a high task orientation and at the same time low relationship orientation is recommended. In other words, the supervisor should teach (“telling”).
  • Leadership style 2: If the employee has developed further (low to moderate maturity), it is recommended that the manager simultaneously applies a highly employee-related and task-related management style. It is important to convince the employees (“selling”).
  • Leadership style 3: With moderate to high maturity of his employees, the manager should be highly employee-related and at the same time less task-related and involve them in the objective or in decisions (“participating”).
  • Leadership style 4: Very “mature” employees do not need a special attention from the manager, nor do they need to be given detailed instructions regarding their tasks and behaviour. In this case, responsibility should be delegated (“delegating”).

Is this digital or agile employee management?

After this model has been explained in detail, the question arises again and again: Is this agile and does this make us fit for the future in the digital transformation? The first can certainly be answered with a yes, since a framework has now also been created for the manager. There are 4 styles in which a leader can move. It is not possible to say exactly whether it will make us fit for the future, but it shows that flexible management also makes employees more flexible. So it   certainly cannot be counterproductive.

Over the next few months, I will publish a few follow-up articles with concrete examples of how such leadership can be shaped. I also explain Leadership 4.0 and the concept of digital leadership. Also, check again and again in the category “Digital Leadership” if new articles are available.

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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Source: People photo created by freepik – de.freepik.com


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.