Digital Leader

What makes a good digital leaders from?

Pretty at the same time to my article on Leadership in the Digital Transformation, has a TimeTac Blog Parade started on Digital Leadership with different perspectives on the subject.

As in the blog parade lately - again - a lot about good leaders or Neudeutsch: written "Leader", this time in the context of the Digital Transformation. Whether this comes to new requirements of a professional group or we - again - digital marketing old wine in new bottles, however, is still open.

The quick recipe for innovative methods and strategies here is often a smart copy process: Take a successful and clear concept of a media heavily hyped area (z.B. from world of IT startups), about wearing it on a long-standing corporate task and mix the terms. This will Agil Management, Change Management is the digital transformation and managers are Digital Leaders. But what is really behind it?

Why do executives?

The need of leaders emerged only in the course of industrialization. From owner-operated craft factories with a master, Journeymen and apprentices were division of labor own factories with specialists. In order to structure this division of labor, special tasks useful, the individual steps and work areas had to be coordinated with each other.

Up to a certain size it initially works through mutual self-tuning all those involved in direct contact and through informal communication. But already here created to simplify and increase efficiency solid processes, plans, Rules or standard procedures as a second coordination mechanism.

Beyond a certain size, however, it is then necessary, to keep track and ensure, draw the same time all on the same page. Each task must be coordinated and synchronized, it is necessary to give instructions and procedures or. to monitor performance of tasks.

The larger the organization, the more positions are needed, to work together and ensure the same goal, that the purpose of the organization is achieved. This is the birth of Management- and guide rollers.

In short, the division of labor gives rise to coordinating tasks. The larger an organization is, the more coordination and consultation is necessary: through processes, by agreements and by clear instructions and inspections. The executives as a separate professional group were born. The tasks of effective leadership, to achieve the organization's purpose are also long been clear described (z.B. F. Malik: To lead, Afford, Life. Düsseldorf 2000):

  1. Ensure targets
  2. To organize
  3. Decide
  4. Check
  5. develop and promote human

In these tasks will not change in the future.

Does effective leadership today?

So it's just old wine in new bottles?

Not quite!

Although the task will never change, so the environment has yet changed dramatically, act in which managers. The management guru Peter Drucker was 2002 in a Interview vom Manager Magazin asked, why top executives fail so often and he replied "[..] Over the past three decades, the demands have become so incredibly complicated, that today only supermen can be successful. "

With the continuous increase of the own markets and the company towards global global corporations with rising competition to be controlled reality was more complex. The answer was more coordinative objects and further hierarchical levels, which ultimately only to the complex reality served to mess- to reduce and controllable elements. The higher the hierarchical level,, the farther you are from reality away - top leaders act only on the basis of a condition mediated by others and repeatedly filtered and distorted image of reality. This principle is called in our childhood "Whispers" - and the result is known. And as a communications researcher noticed decades ago, is the map other than the region or an image of an object is not the object itself, but merely a custom simplification.

Dramatically it is then, if the actions that, at the end of "Whispers" chain sit, at the same time has the greatest impact on all other. The decision of the group management board falls on the basis of the combined and filtered realities of over one hundred thousand realities of the employees and customers of all markets and countries. At the same time, the decision affects all realities of.

The second mechanism, which is more difficult the work of managers the reaction time. Until all the information on all levels of hierarchy meaningful aggregation, are interpreted and passed on and get "up", passes a lot of time - especially, because there are almost always questions, a dialogue on multiple levels of hierarchy. The decision then falls rapidly, but must also arrive at all and interpreted there for their own reality and then optionally relayed.

The last mechanism has to do with the amount of participants. It's easy, 11 to control simultaneous players on a football field with a whistle in a different direction. But no coach in the world would be able, To achieve this on a free unlimited field with hundreds of thousands of players at the same time. And if these people are also distributed worldwide in smaller groups, would this attempt even for a- or other with dramatic, term health consequences.

Digitization has enabled organizations, expand their own coverage on the entire globe. But has also made sure, that the organizations themselves are out of control. Even the best managers are restricted in their effectiveness according to the old paradigm.

Peter Drucker commented on this in the interview: "It is indeed still the axiom, Companies would be up integrated. I think this argument is wrong. "

So the problem is not the job or the corporate culture, but simply the process of information and communication - and this is the world of digital media.

Digitization is a challenge and at the same time solution

In essence, the digitization first means nothing more than the image of our analog world into a world of numbers. From analog data bits - ie zeros and ones. From a flower photo with pixels at a particular position is with a specific color value. That's digitization - no more - and no less!

In dem Moment, in which I am able, Parts of our reality in Digital, Thus depict machine usable form, I change the rules of the Information and Communication. A bit is in electron velocity anywhere in the world, and it is increased at variable. Everytime and everywhere. And in the digital world, it's always about the processing, Forwarding and storage of information and the translation of our world into the digital and vice versa via interfaces.

And this is where the solution lies for organizations and executives. The various parts of an organization need to communicate and share information in real time. There are communication- and information mechanisms required, a joint, to ensure effective achievement. It must be ensured, that the right information at the right time in the right place. This is exactly where the digital media put on: They are tools for communication and information.

The conceptual model of the Digital Enterprise

It makes no sense, copy working methods of the IT world, without the underlying conceptual models to consider. And here the role of the Digital begins Leaders: Understand, mind what this "New World". This new world is initially nothing more than a collection of standards, of "recipes" or procedures, just like in the regular world,. tasks, which are always the same met, can be automated by a program.

One of the most important elements in the modern IT is the move away from thinking in processes and "scripts" towards the so-called object-oriented model. In simple words: Software today consists of a variety of small programs, which are addressed on the basis of defined interfaces and methods. I send a fixed bundle in a specified language structure of information on a program object and receive in return a new information as a result of back. So I have the opportunity to simplify me with a group of program objects life - these groups are called frameworks. The charm of a framework, that many programmers, I do not know, ensure, that the individual lines of code of the program objects work and are currently. I create my software on that basis and I am fast and flexible.

Another one, important feature is the variability of the Digital World. It costs no effort to change a pixel. development, Completion and change can hardly be separated. Versioning is replaced by release cycles, Maintenance windows and immediate usability for all customers. I can already start with prototypes or minimum products. A bit put here the gaming mentality with in it: I do it, and if I fail, I do it again - until it works. And if it works out you go the same way to the next level more. This is now called New Germany "pivots" and is the innovation in business development.

The size of the business has been given increasingly less to a company size of a person (solopreneur), cooperating in networks that also form here Frameworks, take over the labor certain tasks. The buzzword for this is the Gig Economy, so services, the results defined a few clear and such: Ein Logo, Landing-Page, 1.000 are generating followers and the like set. This fragmentation leads to an incredibly dynamic ecosystem, that can almost instantly react to changes.

These ways of thinking can be found in most IT startups and are the foundation for a variety of current and future methods and strategies for the digital transformation. The resulting changes will continue to move forward. Disintegration and business outsourcing tasks to specialists, Automation of communication and information processes. Shorter innovation cycles with more products, not sold. Greater flow of information and greater self-organization.

The mark of a Digital Leader

For effective "Digital Leader" it means today, especially: "Learn IT and Learn from the IT'lern". A basic understanding of digital media, their structure and function, as well as basic knowledge of modern programming facilitate these steps significantly. The close collaboration with IT'lern and an understanding of the challenges and approaches here are extremely helpful.

As an effective Digital Leader it is then all about, to accompany the process of change for themselves and also together with the own team. It's about, own information- and standardize communication processes and structure, digitally mapping and then to automate.

The underlying conceptual model should be: "How do I get the digital systems to, to fully automate the information and communication from me and my staff?" - or short: "How can we make ourselves superfluous?“

This has already begun in the outsourcing of IT services, is currently in the marketing- arrived and sales structures and will certainly continue in management. It will no longer be a question, evaluate information, forward and accordingly control but about, to create systems or frameworks, which every specialist enable as effectively and efficiently as possible to work on the organizational objectives.

A good digital leader is therefore able, the (Informations- and communication) to analyze processes of internal organizational unit, to structure the interfaces to other units, to automate recurring activities and from a framework - to create a framework - a system, which allows its own specialists and experts, to make a valuable contribution to the organizational goals. He also accompanies the employees in their learning through the Digital Transformation.

your “Digital Take-Away” – For you to take away

As a manager or personnel development naturally arises precisely at this point the question: What do I do with this information?

Here are a few suggestions for your next steps:

  1. The principles of the effective guide, Management models and leadership styles have not changed.
    Breathe short Duch and employ Also thus, it helps and is established knowledge.
  2. Get to know the technical principles and background of IT and digital media. You must not be a computer scientist, but it will help you understand, how the technologies work, because you determine the thinking- and actions of the IT'ler and the Digital World.
  3. Busy yourself with the thought world of IT'ler: How to be found and solved problems, how a project is organized, how are the working processes and solutions, how IT experts work together?
  4. They work with distributed teams and across multiple sites: Busy yourself with the experience of teleworking – New Germany “Remote Work”. What are the requirements and tasks arising here for executives and what has been proven?
  5. Check your daily work with the glasses of a IT'lers: What can be automated? How flowing communication and information. How do you work with your colleagues together and how your team works together?
  6. Learners the different approaches, know methods and strategies of IT startups, especially the ideas of agility, SCRUM. Lean Startup, Customer Centric Design, Open Innovation, Learning Organisations, Growth hacking and even more radical and interesting approaches successful IT startups. Not everything is fit for your world, but you will find excellent suggestions.


If you are looking for concrete examples of the Digital Transformation Leader, then the following program may be interesting:

  • A virtual coaching program for executives: From the situation detection on the individual competence determination to a conversion Coaching. The situation analysis is free: Digital / Global Leadership Programm
  • An academy for practical learning the most important digital skills of highly successful digital workers with helpful blogs and VIdeo training – Current focus on marketing and sales, but is constantly expanding. Digital-Worker Akademy
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