Digital Leadership: How to achieve digital change in your company

SNP Experts
| 4 min read

With currently accelerated digitization projects, companies are facing radical change, which presents managers with a variety of challenges. They must acquire new skills for digital transformation processes themselves and are faced with the task of inspiring employees to use new technologies. How can this be mastered?


The digital transformation demands a lot from today's managers: In order to make your company fit for the future, it is by no means enough to introduce digital technologies and new business models. The digitalization of companies is tantamount to a cultural change that includes a social component that should not be underestimated. Decision-makers need an agile management style in order to do justice to  the complex requirements - and above all to the employees in the company. MR BLUEFIELD provides tips for the so-called leadership 4.0:


Digital skills: Closing knowledge gaps

The insight is not new, but essential: In order to steer a company successfully through the digital transformation, managers need digital know-how. They should understand the extent how far existing processes are changing and what opportunities for optimization arise with new technologies. Studies from recent years have shown, however, that most CEOs and board members have little or no digital know-how. In view of the massive changes brought about by digital change, executives should define their own knowledge gaps in order to build up missing skills quickly and continuously. This is particularly important in view of the fact that expertise has a shorter half-life period - because technologies and the business environment are constantly evolving. According to a recent labor market study by the HR Service Provider Robert Half, decision-makers are increasingly recognizing the need for personal further training. 38 percent of the managers surveyed would also seek advice from external experts on the digital transformation.


Digital transformation – a task for the entire management team

Executives should not assume that they have to manage technological change at management level on their own. From the CEO to senior managers in areas such as IT, marketing and HR, it is recommended that all C-level members be closely involved. This is because digital transformation, as a structural change process, affects all areas of the company and, in addition to an appropriate budget, requires control over IT, for example. Managers are well advised to pool their knowledge and to examine the complex external and internal requirements from different perspectives. This makes it possible to optimally set up new technologies and redefine the company. A clear vision of the future is the basis for a transformation strategy that can ultimately be realized by being guided and exemplified by  the managers in the departments.


Communication as a key success factor

As a supervisor, you have the task of embedding the transformation strategy deep within the company. Digital change raises many questions among the workforce. Invest time in communication to spread technical know-how and digital cultural change throughout the company. In this context, it is advantageous to show employees the added value new digital solutions can bring to them. The better the workforce feels they are being taken on board, the more inspired they are, the more motivated they will be to support the change process – a fundamental prerequisite for the success of digital transformations.

Modern communication tools such as corporate platforms or employee apps, which are designed for interaction, are particularly suitable for spreading messages.  These also make it possible to better manage cross-team projects and measure their success or failure. However, the digital tools should not replace  personal conversation. In order to bring employees together, companies today  are increasingly relying on the event format Corporate Barcamp: At the open meetings, also called non-conferences, employees of all company levels meet each other. There are no speakers, only participants, it is all about dialogue at eye level.  


Focus on employees: promoting knowledge transfer and teamwork

In addition to the active involvement of employees in the transformation process, the transfer of knowledge is essential. New technologies only unfold their potential if employees are experienced in using them. As a digital leader 4.0, you should support the workforce in gaining their own experience with technological innovations. Where know-how is lacking, it must be built up flexibly and continuously. There are many approaches to further education: from online training to academy degrees. Employees should also be allowed to learn from and with each other. This is made possible, for example, by new digital platforms on which employees work together and network across departments. This not only promotes team spirit and knowledge transfer, but also the development of agile processes and the potential for an agile company. 


Establishing a culture for change, breaking down rigid hierarchies

The digital transformation of companies will ultimately only succeed if outdated organizational models are reconsidered. Hierarchical thinking makes little sense here; network-like structures and cooperation at eye level are more likely to lead to success. As the pacesetter and shapers of digitalization, managers are faced with the task of transforming the existing corporate culture into a culture of change. This culture should be characterized by an innovative spirit, allow for rapid change and be designed to share knowledge and information. For employees to be able to work with new technologies independently and with motivation also entails an open error culture that leaves room for learning and experimentation. 


Leadership 4.0 is only the beginning. After all, the digitalization of companies must be seen as a continuous process that requires constant adjustments.  


More on this topic: