The digital transformation is changing the world of work and, according to many authors, calls for agile leadership. One Article on the topic of agile leadership You will find here. Before that, I would like to turn to the topic of digital leadership. But first of all: what is this digital transformation actually?
Due to the rapid increase in technologies, we speak of a “digital transformation” in every area. Famous examples include Apple, which has fundamentally digitized the music industry and has thus reacted to the new customer request: to have music anytime, anywhere. Kodak also had to fundamentally change its business model from analog cameras to digital ones.
Many authors do not want to say whether the digital transformation is an evolution or a revolution and therefore speak of the “digital (r) evolution”. Along with this, the leadership and the world of work also change. This is under the terms “ Work 4.0 “or “New Work” to find.

The change of leadership

In the recently published book on the topic, the reasons for digital leadership are summarized as follows:

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

Software company

Holacracy, Management Y, Democracy in Companies … There are many frameworks for running companies in an agile way. At least according to the authors of these frameworks. The fact is, however, that companies are increasingly having to deal with technology in every area. RFID chips in clothing and software solutions for complex problems. Every area should soon come into contact with technology.

Generation Y and Z

The new generations want to have a say. Even according to that Framework Management Y young people want to get a “desire for work” again. However, what Generation Z really wants is still a very controversial topic. Generation Y representatives dreamed of having a career when they started their job. Generation Z is more emotionally distant. For this generation, too, the workplace in the company is a part of life – albeit a clearly delimited part. So there is again a clear separation between work and private life. At least that is the current status 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 should be promoted by frameworks such as Scrum. Short decision-making processes and “close to the board” teams.

Give up control, keep leadership (Prof. Dr. Thorsten Petry)

digital leadership
It is a permanent balancing act between openness and leadership, which will be of decisive importance for executives in digital leadership (own illustration based on the idea of Petry 2016)

Agile leadership or digital leadership?

In the literature, the terms agile leadership and digital leadership are currently used quite arbitrarily. Because of this, I have a separate article too agile leadership written. Until then, however, I would like to add a quote in front of the explanation:

Agile leadership enables people to do more than they could ever do on their own (Boris Gloger)

According to the authors, the topic 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 aforementioned book and are as follows:

  • Openness and trust towards the employees
  • Speed through networking
  • Expertise and knowledge
  • Develop employees
  • Community of Practice
  • transparency
  • Make successes visible
  • Big picture

All of these terms sound sensible 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 humility.
  4. Demand openness.
  5. Forgive mistakes.

All in all, this sounds very exciting and requires a strong rethink in the minds of employees and managers. How exactly this new type of leadership is implemented will be examined in detail in the course of my research.
[werbung] Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

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



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.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more

The cookie settings on this website are set to "Allow Cookies" to provide the best browsing experience. If you use this website without changing the cookie settings or click "Accept", you agree to this.