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Digital Transformation

Leadership 4.0 – Simply forget the existing?
Digital world and its potentials and challenges

In times of change due to digitalization, globalization, acquisitions of companies, re-organizations, political or health influences which challenge collaboration, and a global complexity can be found in many things, the uncertainty among people how the future will develop is growing.

The digital transformation has led to radical changes in society, organizations, work design and models. This has led to entirely new expectations of leaders and managers.

If in the past the question was often, what defines a good leader or manager and how can these roles be taken on. In these days, the question is how deeply will this role model and thus the self-understanding of leaders and managers be shaken up and how well can leaders and managers adapt to a new role model and self-understanding?

In the future, people will still be needed to lead and manage. However, to a certain extent, these will no longer be carried out unisono (personal union), as by one and the same person.

New role/job descriptions

New assignments and role concepts

The digital transformation means a shift in responsibilities and thus in competencies. In particular, competencies for action (empowerment), that should be regulated in every job, are also present in the responsibility of leadership. In this context, the empowerment also represents power, which has been earned over many years through achievements. The digital transformation includes a power shift across the entire organization and thus also for the executives, for example, from leaders and managers to employees. Consequently, leadership must be designed to promote networking and coaching behaviors for all employees that take on new responsibilities and thus competencies for action.


As a result of the digital transformation, managers must engage more with topics such as the purpose of the organization, operationalized strategy, change management, agility, resilience, leading remote teams... Work is becoming more independent in terms of time and location and leaders need to lead remotely. This has consequences for the communication (culture) which increasingly takes place on digital channels. In summary, it can be said that, as a result of the digital transformation, managers must increasingly deal with the culture (leadership is also culture) in the organization and less with the day-to-day business. Day-to-day business, however, does not run without a corresponding culture. Although it is getting on in years, Peter Drucker's expression "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" seems more relevant than ever as a success factor.


The following illustration shows how the roles (tasks, responsibilities, and competencies) change in the area of interaction in agile collaboration. In the process, leading and managing are given a new definition in terms of who does what in an agile collaboration or in an agile team.

Leadership and agile collaboration.png

While leaders and managers are increasingly focusing on the mid- and long-term aspects, such as vision and alignment, as well as strategy and cultural development, team members are increasingly taking on the day-to-day business. They organize themselves, plan their tasks and implement them independently. This is always done within the framework of teamwork and in a network with other departments and experts.


Leaders and managers resolve the obstacles and ensure that team members have access to resources such as information, knowledge, finances, time, materials, training, methods, etc., so that they can perform their tasks independently.


Agile organizations require more leadership & less management from executives.

If leaders and managers understand this and can get rid of the fear of "I'm becoming redundant" that often exists in their heads, the basis for agile collaboration is given. In agile organizations, leadership is more important than ever, because leadership is a central pillar of the organizational culture.

The reason why leadership is so important in agile organizations is the self-organization and self-management of the teams and team members. If they do not receive the framework conditions such as orientation, clarity, support, network, etc. from the leadership, the purest chaos arises within a short time.

Every advantage also has a disadvantage and every disadvantage also has an advantage! The question is whether we want to see the other side of the coin and can see it?

Advantages always include disadvantages

The other side of the coin

Digital transformation in leadership also means change for employees. The desire for autonomy, self-determination and flexibility has its price and organizations must address this issue, or rather their employees. Employees will become more autonomous and act (shift in empowerment - autonomy in action) based on their judgment, which means more responsibility. But do all employees want this? In addition, their performance becomes more transparent through the usage of digital tools, which in turn can trigger pressure. Furthermore, it is not yet possible to estimate how many jobs will be lost through digitization because activities in processes will be automated. At the same time, there will probably be new professions. The question is, are people affected and able to open up to other activities and professions and do they do so in time?

Digitization also means networking and accessibility, which is another challenge for managers and employees. According to studies, the new intensity and reality of work is perceived as stress. In order to counteract this additional stress, preventive measures are necessary in occupational health management and are becoming part of the corporate culture. Leaders and managers must address this issue and together with the team, define, for example, accessibility, and availability (must e-mails be answered on weekends).

Agile collaboration

Consequences for organizational culture

If the digital transformation is implemented as described above, hierarchies will inevitably become flatter in order to meet the need for flexibility and autonomy (e.g., more part-time employees). The absence of hierarchies raises the risk that employees will feel uncomfortable due to the shift in authority, as they are used to being subordinate to clear disciplinary authority, which has its advantages. If failures happen, they can be traced back to the managers, who said the task needs to be performed in a specific way as an example. If this is no longer the case, the question arises as to how failures will be dealt with in the future. Who is responsible and what are the consequences?

In a positive perspective, this is the opportunity for an organizational learning and knowledge culture, which is fed by failures, among other things. This also implies that the value of knowledge must be redefined. While factual knowledge is eroding and being overrun in the fast-moving and precipitating information society, the question arises as to what knowledge is increasingly gaining in importance. Certainly, knowledge about oneself is part of it, in order to take responsibility for one's own development on the basis of talents, strengths, competencies, and skills, e.g., how one can use e.g., learned knowledge from another field in an adapted way. To convey this, storytelling is a good tool. In this context, however, it also becomes clear how central it is for the development of leaders, managers, and employees to reflect on themselves and to learn from this.

Courage and willingness to try new things and to evaluate them objectively

What is new is different and therefore unknown

Are we humans ready for digital transformation? Many people love electronic gadgets, but this does not mean that we are open to changes that directly affect us and that we "must" adapt. Digitization also means that processes become digital. In the context of digital transformation and organizational development, the question also arises: What use are the best technologies, tools and digital processes if they are not accepted by people?


This is the basic prerequisite for the success of the digital transformation. Are leaders, managers, and employees capable of learning and do they want to learn, because learning also always means replacing existing knowledge and thus trying to "forget" older knowledge or not paying so much attention anymore (maintaining the current individual status in the organization)?

What we can do for you

The starting point of a digital transformation is always the customer-oriented solution and not the digitization (= transforming analog information into digital) itself, i.e., the technology. The term customer can be used internally and externally.

We guide and support you in the digital transformation. We do this by working with you to further develop the following success competencies (in alphabetical order) in your leaders and managers:

  • Agile working and management methods

  • Ambiguity tolerance

  • Change management, problem-solving and intercultural competence

  • Data security and data awareness

  • digital workplace and media literacy

  • Digital technologies and digital economy

  • Empathy

  • Decision-making ability

  • Flexibility / Change

  • Leading virtual teams and leading remotely

  • Heterarchy / Self-leadership

  • Ability to be innovative (including exploring and initiating or enabling new things and new ways of thinking)

  • Communication skills (incl. feedback and listening)

  • People orientation / appreciation (incl. individual needs, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses)

  • Ability to network and work in a team

  • Self-leadership and self-reflection

  • Transparency

  • Create trust

  • Inquisitiveness / curiosity / ability to learn


Leadership in the digital transformation is still very analog: Because people lead people.


Use our knowledge and experience to become more successful. In an initial discussion, we will be happy to provide you with details on digital transformation and answer any questions you may have.

All services and training courses are offered in English and German.


For more information, please contact us.

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