Digital leadership - digitalization places new demands on managers

Digital leadership - digitalization places new demands on managers

Manu George

Wed, June 10

The brave new digital world requires a realignment of the working world. This applies both to the employees involved in the corporate processes and to the managers and decision-makers . This new type of leadership style, which is closely linked to the use of digital media and tools, is known as digital leadership .

Although this management style is not yet present in many companies, digitization makes it necessary for companies to become more agile and flexible and to involve their employees more closely in decision-making processes. However, this does not require revolutions, but rather evolution. In the following you will learn the most important background about digital leadership and how it changes and shapes our way of working.

What exactly is digital leadership?

The term " digital leadership " has not yet been clearly defined, which is why many different aspects are currently combined under this name. Basically, two different ways of understanding can be distinguished:

Digital leadership in times of digitalization

On the one hand, digital leadership means the ability of executives to take the right measures in times of digitalization . The new media and technologies must be used to make the company future-proof and to be one step ahead of the competition. Digital techniques such as social media are used to achieve efficient cooperation between management and employees, methods of project management are used digitally and there are online-based evaluation criteria for employees. All of this has the goal of making modern opportunities fruitful for the company and of practicing modern personnel management.  

"Digital leadership  is the ability of managers to make the right measures and decisions in times of digitalization"

Digital leadership as preparation for digitization

On the other hand, digital leadership means advancing digitalization in a company. Nowadays, managers have the task of aligning the company and training, preparing and guiding the employees so that operations are competitive and up to date in times of digitalization . In this understanding, digital leadership is a method to advance the digital transformation of a company . Digital leaders encourage people to use new communication channels, become more agile and flexible in business processes, and break new ground. In this respect, digital leadership has a lot to do with creativity, innovation and courage.

How strong digital leadership is in a company depends largely on its digital maturity. Therefore, a distinction is made when considering digital leadership start-ups, digital transformation and digital companies . Because it makes a difference whether a company is in the process of being set up and must first find its working methods, whether existing company processes have to be digitally transformed and converted for the modern world of work, or whether a company has already completed this step.

A distinction is also made between three different areas that digital leadership affects. These are the customers (Customers), the work environment (Work) and the company itself (Business). For example, digital leadership includes aspects such as flexible working hours, coworking spaces and home offices, which should make work more flexible and pleasant for employees. The aim is also to give employees more participation in decision-making processes and to give them the opportunity to create a work environment in which they can fully exploit their personal strengths and fully exploit their creative potential.

In this context, digital leadership raises questions regarding the corporate structure and, in particular, the competencies and responsibilities of management and leadership. As a rule, these two areas are differentiated in such a way that management has the task of reducing obstacles and making work as simple and efficient as possible, whereas leadership above all has potential for change and is intended to transform, modernize and make the company more effective.

A changed world of work needs a new management style

The world of work is undergoing massive change. One reason for this is that the innovation and production cycles of goods are becoming shorter and shorter. This applies especially to the technical area. A device like a computer or a smartphone is up to two years old today before it is replaced by a new, more modern device with more or better capabilities. Companies must therefore concentrate on keeping up with this high speed and not on developing long-term product lines.

Another change in the way we work is the use of technology in our production processes. In the meantime, team meetings and meetings often take place via Skype and e-mails, and the cloud is essential to the exchange of information and data. All employees and all information are networked with each other, so that every employee with the appropriate authorization can access them at any time. Hierarchies within a company become flatter and it becomes easier for individual employees to get involved in decision-making processes and to become creative.

In addition, the market in which companies operate is changing radically. This becomes clear, for example, from the fact that more and more disruptive business models are successful. This makes it necessary for companies to constantly engage in new business areas, to expand or renew their own offerings and to rethink the current business philosophy on a regular basis. The best example of this is e-mobility. This is competing with the classic auto industry and threatens to destroy its business model. The companies operating in this industry now have to decide how much they want to get involved in the field of e-mobility, whether they focus on it, offer it as an additional offer to traditional car models and much more.

Last but not least, new technologies influence our way of working. Many machines have been developed to make working easier and minimize health risks. Often enough, jobs like this also result in jobs being lost and new ones being created. Employees therefore have to adapt to ever new circumstances, continually train themselves and ensure that they remain indispensable for their company and the market despite changing framework conditions.

Digital leadership has major tasks to accomplish in all of these areas. There are numerous new requirements for managers that did not exist a few years or even decades ago. They have to be much more creative and future-oriented than before in order to keep up with the high speed of production cycles and to recognize trendsetting trendsand to be able to take up. Digital managers have to decide which strategies and techniques are relevant to their own operations in order to always be one step ahead of the competition and not to fall behind. You must be familiar with new techniques and methods and use them for the good of the company and its employees. You need to keep a close eye on the market and be able to assess which trends are short-lived and which could turn out to be disruptive for your own business model. A digital leader must master all these tasks in order to be able to work as a competent and reliable manager these days.

Digital evolution vs. Digital revolution

Digital leadership is an important tool for the success of companies in the modern digital world. Unlike other tools, digital leadership cannot simply be acquired and used. This leadership style is not something that emerges overnight and turns our way of working upside down. Rather, digital leadership must grow, develop and become natural and natural for employees and managers alike. It is not a question of a digital revolution that changes everything overnight, but a digital evolution that gradually leads from what is to something higher, bigger, better.
Companies need to be aware that they have to take different steps and take action to successfully implement digital leadership . Managers need to be trained, new technologies acquired and employees familiarized with the new methods. All data has to be digitized so that it is available to all employees everywhere, anytime via the cloud. A comprehensive company concept with a focus on digitization must be created and implemented. All of these measures take time and staying power.

Nevertheless, digital leadership also has a lot of revolutionary things. The established and proven ways of thinking and work processes are questioned and partly replaced by completely different ones. Systems and structures, as they have been valid and accepted for decades, are becoming less and less important and valid. At the end of this process, a world of work will have arisen that can hardly be compared to the previous one. Among other things, the tasks and activities of the employees will change massively. While previously mainly production steps had to be done, in the future it will be more about coordination, monitoring, development and team management.
In this context, companies have no time to waste. While they have to take their time and be patient with a view to the digital evolution, speed is required in the digital revolution. Anyone who invested in digitalization five years ago and got involved with it is already reaping the rewards and is very well positioned in the market. If you haven't done this, you have to catch up quickly and be careful not to fall behind. The competition in the digital market is fierce. That is why speed and a talent for recognizing and exploiting trends are required: typical characteristics of a digital leader .

The future of digital leadership - an outlook

The history of digital leadership in companies has only just begun. Executives and companies have already taken a few first steps, but there is still a long way to go before digital transformation and the establishment of digital leadership in all companies. It is important to take new directions in this way and to show courage for new things without throwing the tried and tested overboard. Certain techniques and methods that have been used for decades may well prove their worth in the digital world . It would be fatal to simply throw them overboard just because they are already old.
In this context, it will be increasingly important to have a healthy mix of digital natives and digital imigrants in one company. Young people bring a breath of fresh air to a company and contribute a lot of creative potential through their agility and their desire to break new ground. At the same time, they benefit from the wealth of experience of those who have been with us for a long time and know the company like the back of their hand. In this way, the company remains open and modern, but firmly rooted.

Little by little, digital leadership will establish itself as a leadership style. It is therefore advisable to rely on training courses and new technologies to advance operations. A corporate concept is extremely helpful here. Because not all available methods are equally suitable for every company. It is important to choose the individually suitable methods and to adapt them to your own needs and requirements.

A digital leader must necessarily be an all-round talent who has a good view of all departments, is well versed in technical issues and with the management of staff, and always sets creative impulses for the company.

Author Info

Manu George

Business Strategist | R & D | Blogger | Techie

Techie and Business Strategist with a showed history of working in the creative innovation items and administrations. Solid business improvement proficient ..

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