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The Ultimate Digital Leadership Skills (Your Team Will Love Them)

Posted by Sarah Lindner on August 26, 2015

In 2020, digitization of the workplace will have reached all business sectors. This insight emerges from the recent study “Survival Strategy Digital Leadership” from “Deloitte Digital and Heads!” To keep one´s long-term success in the marketplace and to remain competitive, all companies alike will have to deal with the increasing digitization. Studies have shown however, that approximately 30% of 102 companies surveyed do not currently measure up to the challenges of digitization. Companies have to adapt – the key to change lies in successful implementation of “digital leadership.”

Adapting To The “Digital Natives”

Too many companies have a considerable need to catch up to the digitization process: according to a current Kienbaum study, a mere 7% of companies make use of data analytics, a mere 5% make use of cloud solutions. Many companies have not recognized the chances that accompany the quick processing of data. Moreover, the McKinsey Report of March 2016 reveals that "using online talent platforms can increase revenues by up to 9 percent and reduce costs by up to 7 percent." However, they must still urgently adapt to the demands of the new generation of employees. Generation Y and the succeeding Generation Z, who are known as “digital natives,” were born into the digital world and do not seldomly stand in conflict with old-established hierarchy structures. The less flexible a company and the more rigid its structures, the higher the risk of losing young, qualified employees. In order to retain them and to secure survival, companies must be willing to rethink and change their structures:

  • The network structure of the company must be oriented in a way so that flexibility and innovation can become the new standard
  • Leaders must be equipped with the necessary influence to be able to implement a successful change in the age of digitization
  • The “digital leader” is in control of the digitization process

Leadership 2.0: Executives As Digital Pioneers

The company’s digital transformation should be actively pursued by the “digital leader.” This function can either be taken over by an internal company executive such as a CEO, CTO or CMO, or a new job can specially be created, depending on the available resources. According to a study by “Deloitte Digital and Heads!,” the digital leader is present in both the board of directors, as well as the executive board and exerts significant influence on the income statement of the company. We are witnessing a shift in leadership skills: whereas many established brick and mortar companies are presently still following the “command and control” principle, leaders of the future need to become thinkers and visionaries, fostering a culture of staff training and development together with the management team as a pioneering act in the emerging digital age – “digital leadership.”

How Do Companies Find Their Way Into The Digital Age?

Corporate management should ask itself the following questions:

  • How heavily is my industry affected by the evolution? When will digitization reach my company?
  • Inventory: what level of sophistication has digitization reached in my company? Have any measures been taken already?
  • Next steps – what to do next?

Conclusion: the transition of a company into the digital age is primarily a question of leadership- “digital leadership.” The leading role in the digitization process is not played by the engineering department, but by Management.


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Topics: HR Trends, Management & Leadership, HR Solutions

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