For me, leadership means ensuring performance and motivation in an organization by a person who, through interaction, directs the actions of individuals and groups towards the realization of given goals.

In the course of my research, I analyzed two studies that are intended to show the current status of leadership in digitization. The first study examines the skills of managers in connection with digitization and their acquisition. The second study relates to specific changes for managers that are related to digitization.

Study 1: Executive Competencies

The first study was carried out by the German Society for Personnel Research (DGFP 2016). An online survey was used to collect data on leadership in the context of digitization. Participants were over 300 specialists with management responsibility across all company sizes and industries.

The study participants were asked in the study to evaluate competencies in connection with digitization. The most important competencies according to the ranking of the study are:

  • Collaboration with employees (2.55)
  • Collaboration with other executives (2.69)
  • Network in the company (2.72)
  • Communication and Transparency (2.77)
  • Leadership Development (2.89)
  • Implementation of projects (2.91)
  • Use of collaboration technology (3.16)
  • Use of social media (3.17).

The executives should then evaluate the most important opportunities to acquire the mentioned competencies. The results are also shown in a ranking:

  • Learning by Doing (2.01),
  • Networking outside the company (2.20),
  • Private use of technologies (2.25),
  • Use of company technology (2.31),
  • Exchange with employees (2.41) and
  • Internal or external trainings (2.96).

It can be seen in both cases 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 cooperation with employees.

According to the study, there are also behaviors that managers want to change in the course of digitization. These were also arranged in a ranking by the executives. The most important are:

  • Change in management communication (1.74)
  • Promotion of digital business models (1.88)
  • Non-hierarchical 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 digitization in their implementation. The results come from the Capgemini Change Management Study, for which more than 180 executives were surveyed on various topics.

The results were summarized in seven categories, which correspond to the changes in the context of digitization that managers consider to be significant. These changes are listed and explained below (Capgemini 2016).

  • Networking: Cooperation is increasingly taking place in teams that cooperate in a higher level of self-organization.
  • Knowledge management: Collective knowledge replaces individual knowledge – for example, experienced experts should trust the knowledge of third parties, as subject areas become significantly more complex.
  • Flat hierarchies: Virtual and short-lived teams replace bureaucratic and hierarchical team structures.
  • Communication: Communication changes due to virtual workplaces in different time zones.
  • Influence: Informal groups and opinion leaders can have a major impact on an organization’s success.
  • Working methods: Part of virtual teamwork is characterized by interactions and non-routine processes.
  • Speed: In some work areas, the innovation and thus also the rate of change are increased.

Conclusion

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. The behavior of executives should also change massively. Numerous recommendations were made in this regard in Study 2.

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DGFP. (2017). Digital leadership readiness. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.strategy-business.com/article/10541?gko=8738d

Capgemini. (2016). Digital leadership – leadership development in the digital age. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.capgemini.com/consulting-de/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/08/14-10-16_digital_leadership_v11_web_17102016.pdf

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Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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