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Leadership in the time of digitalization

Globalization, demographic change, skills shortage, technologization, automation – external factors have changed the demands on companies and thus on managers enormously. But what does that mean for managers? How must leadership look today and in the future? Which leadership do companies need for digital transformation? And what about digital leadership?

Top-down or bottom-up?

When it comes to success in terms of the digital transformation in organization, the topic of leadership comes up right away. It’s no wonder: a successful digital transformation requires real changes in our work models and structures.

Hierarchical structures, presence culture and silo thinking – these no longer work in the time of digitalization. New framework conditions and environmental requirements call for new structures and fundamental cultural changes in companies.

Networked thinking requires networked structures. Flexible acting requires flexible working (time) models. Flat hierarchies, interdisciplinary work, more space for creativity.

But how does the change come about?

Word is getting around that profound change cannot simply be dictated from above. Top-down “change processes” are rarely promising or really reach employees.

No wonder that bottom-up is becoming increasingly important. Only those who are allowed to have a say in shaping the change can sustain the change. But going ahead without top-down signals at all does not work, either.

So why try to find the happy medium? “Get involved! Guide the process! We are serious!”

Themes that are initiated and implemented bottom-up, in new open spaces that are made possible from the top down; successful change needs both: impulses and signals from above and at the same time the participation and co-determination of the employees.

People Matter

“Leadership is a service, not a privilege. And the service to the employee is to provide him the opportunity to develop himself.” Bodo Janssen

One thing is very clear: digital leadership means focusing on people. It means giving the support and (free) space to create new ideas and make mistakes. Digital leaders are role models; they strengthen their employees, network them and support their autonomous actions.

Digital leadership means relying on non-hierarchical and cross-departmental communication and collaborative teamwork.

Digital leaders can also let go. They know that every organization has to create its own digital transformation. And they also know that everything they need for successful change already exists: their own employees.

 

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