Digital Leadership - Leadership for digital transformation

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Digital Leadership - Leadership for digital transformation

Digitalization not only brings challenges through the use of new technologies. In fact, it is changing the entire daily work routine and process. Nothing is the same anymore, not even leadership. Today, a manager meets the new requirements with digital leadership, a contemporary leadership concept in the digital age. This allows them to react quickly and flexibly, because in the digital realm in particular, it is often necessary to deal with unforeseen events.

What is Digital Leadership?

Our working world has changed permanently due to digitalization. Digital leadership meets the new requirements. It is agile and offers room for courage and innovative spirit. At the same time, digital leadership stands and falls with the digital leader, i.e. the digital Executive. It is his responsibility to successfully implement the changes in the company.

What makes a digital leader?

In addition to traditional leadership qualities, a digital leader must also possess a range of soft skills in order to successfully lead his or her team digitally. Digitization is in the foreground - so a digital leader must have a great deal of digital expertise, which he or she constantly expands and can also communicate to his or her employees. A relationship based on trust and mutual Appreciation atmosphere is important for driving innovation.

What skills does a digital leader need to possess?

- digital expertise

As a digital leader, you should always be up to date with changes and innovations in the digital (working) world. You regularly inform yourself and deepen your knowledge through workshops or trainings. You are also able to pass on your acquired knowledge to your team.

- social competence

Digital leadership is a modern way of leading teams. There are no strict hierarchies here - the focus is on teamwork. The digital leader has the task of putting together a functioning, diverse team. This combines different competencies that complement each other. This can mean restructuring old teams or rearranging existing teams after a while, if this to the achievement of the goals set is conducive.

The digital leader also promotes the networking of different teams. Employees of different generations and representatives of different values thus complement each other. Together, they work to improve the digital transformation to achieve their goals.

The digital leader knows that the most effective way of working for all team members is also the one with which they are most satisfied. With this in mind, he organizes and structures the teams. He treats his employees with respect and at eye level. Everyone involved knows that transformation takes time and everyone works with patience to achieve their goals.

- Understanding the importance of data

The collection of data is particularly important for digital transformation. Using it ensures that the company continues to develop. The digital leader follows trends and changes and ensures that the collected data is also actively used. Every team member must be able to use the data correctly and profitably. Therefore, the Digital Leader also ensures that team members receive training that enables them to handle data properly. A data-driven digital leadership brings better marketing and sales results.

digital leadership definition

What qualities should a digital leader have?

- agility

Stronger than others Leadership stylesagility is required in digital leadership. Although there is a certain basic structure in leadership, digital transformation in particular often requires quick decisions because unforeseen events occur. Then the digital leader must be able to react agilely. He experiments with solutions and learns quickly from his experiences - even from his mistakes.

- flexibility

A digital leader reacts flexibly and acts dynamically. Those who like to stick to old structures, are afraid of making the wrong decision or react too slowly to changes will not be successful as digital leaders. Especially when it comes to new work processes and Business models The digital leader is characterized by a disruptive mindset.

Because the digital leader is flexible, he likes to play with the possibilities. He tries out what works and what doesn't. He doesn't commit to one approach, but experiments with the possibilities. The Digital Leader knows about Customer Centricity: Rapid Prototyping, design thinking and iterative testing of customer expectations. He knows that rapid change requires sustainable solution approaches and not a quick fix.

- openness

Since he takes care of the implementation of the digital transformation in the company, a digital leader should be open. Open to change, to the new and to the unconventional. Digital leadership does not need traditional old-school leadership, but a leader who encourages his employees in their self-determination. This creates self-directed teams that network with each other and work well together.

You can find out which 15 characteristics a good leader should have these days. here read up.

How do you implement digital leadership?

Essential for the implementation of digital leadership is finding new and faster ways to make decisions - and also revising them. The path to digital leadership is not linear and cannot be accurately planned. Nor is there a static result at the end.

Milestones help to maintain a certain orientation. A certain flexibility is also part of the implementation. If the milestones do not make sense or are not sustainable, you should be able to adjust them as a digital leader.

Freely design leadership

It may be that the transformation is continuous and your business takes the journey step by step. It can also happen that the change takes place in phases. Changing market conditions, technological leaps or certain actions of the competition trigger certain change processes in your company. As a digital leader, you should have the freedom to shape your leadership. The following principles help to implement digital leadership:

  • More important than a general consensus is that the whole team commits to change together.
  • Instead of following fixed plans, it is more important to achieve concrete results. Along the way, teams are allowed to be creative.
  • Designing effective processes is more important than creating fixed structures.
  • Instead of delimiting functions, it is more crucial for change to network competencies.
  • Instead of stubbornly following certain rules, it is more beneficial for a team to openly communicate mutual expectations.
  • It is more beneficial to reflect in a goal-oriented manner rather than to report continuously.

What are the challenges?

A major challenge in the implementation of digital leadership lies in the personality of the digital leader. First of all, he needs the necessary competence and decision-making power to fundamentally change the corporate structure and to form new teams.

But the digital leader also needs patience, tact, time and the necessary budget to implement sustainable change. Fundamental and sustainable change is like a marathon that requires good stamina. The digital leader must manage to inspire employees to achieve a specific goal over the long term. The goal must be attractive to the employees. If they fear that their jobs will be redundant at the end of the process, they are unlikely to be motivated to work enthusiastically.

The digital leader should always make sure that he maintains contact with the grassroots. For digital leadership to succeed, there needs to be clear goals, a willingness to change at all levels in the company and an open top management. If managers cling to old structures, the project is doomed to failure.

What is Digital Leadership

What is the difference between digital leadership and traditional leadership?

In traditional leadership, a management position is filled permanently. The hierarchy plays an important role: at the top the leader, at the bottom the employees who have to carry out the instructions of their superior. In digital leadership, a leadership role is filled temporarily and is integrative. A digital leader works with his team at eye level.


When decisions have to be made, the traditional manager acts on the basis of his or her position and hierarchy. They have the final say, even if the experts in the team disagree with the leader. In digital leadership, on the other hand, the principles and the process are decisive. A digital leader only receives special rights in transparent, exceptional cases that are clearly defined.


A traditional leader manages assignments, plans resources, delegates tasks and evaluates results. The digital leader evaluates the tasks and results together with his employees. Together they also prioritize. The digital leader controls the coordination processes.


Information is distributed by the traditional manager through the hierarchical levels. It is up to the leader to distribute information to their employees. In digital leadership, information is available to everyone at all times. It is up to the employees to get the information they need themselves.

Setting Goals

In fixed cycles, the traditional manager determines which goals an employee should achieve and assesses his or her work. Direct control and feedback is then provided by the supervisor in one-on-one meetings. Digital leadership is also characterized by shared goals. The team works collectively to achieve them. There is a continuous exchange and mutual feedback. In addition to the behavior of an employee, the cooperation and the results that are achieved in the individual processes are also important.


Traditional leadership relies on rules that everyone has to follow. This is to prevent conflicts and mistakes. If someone breaks the rules, there are consequences. The digital leader ensures that his team learns from mistakes and that the employees resolve their conflicts productively. The digital leader supports them in this and moderates the discussions. She makes sure that results are available.


Changes are not welcomed by traditional management. Only as much as necessary should be optimized and changed, the risks should remain low. In digital leadership, on the other hand, innovation and growth play an important role. The digital leader is prepared to implement constant change and to act on his own responsibility. This applies to him just as much as to his team.

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Digital leadership is a modern way of Leadershipwhich focuses on digital transformation. The goal is to successfully lead companies through the digital transformation. The aim is to build and restructure teams in such a way that the team members mutually benefit from each other's skills and knowledge. They work together to achieve a specific goal.

The digital leader is not a classic manager who leads in an authoritarian and hierarchical manner. Rather, he is at eye level with his team, challenges and encourages his employees like a coach. He is open, agile, flexible and creative. He likes to try out new things and take unconventional paths.

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