Digital leaders need to learn to overcome edges

What distinguishes a Digital Leader? We’ve already talked about trust being a valuable factor in managing change and uncertainty, but what thrust do today’s managers need? In the technical literature one reads about the Digital Leader that he should cross the borders. He should be courageous, different, creative. But what exactly is leadership beyond the edges. What defines such a edges and how can a leader prepare for it?

The edges can be versatile in the digital, transformed world. They can be informal or formal edges around the company, the customers or the functions and products. In order to lead a team in a truly goal-oriented way and to manage it in a contemporary way, you need to have a vision of all these edges.

So that you can keep an eye out for the digital transformation, we take a look at the uniqueness of the different barriers that need to be overcome to become a true digital leader.


Geopolitical edges

If we look around the current markets, it quickly becomes clear that we are becoming increasingly global. Company borders are shifting and new countries are becoming less and less expansion risks in a world that is increasingly moving closer together. But this geopolitical change is also accompanied by challenges. Managers have to cope with different time zones, laws, norms and economies. In a world linked by data and digital tools, it takes a high-quality infrastructure and sophisticated use of technologies to manage digitally.


Cultural edges

With the globalization and the work on international markets, a high relevance of cultural edges arises at the same time. Different worldviews, languages and convictions sometimes meet traditionally grown companies.

However, cultural edges are not only relevant for foreign business. There are already different priorities between the different generations to which one has to adjust. The Millennial, for example, places a completely different relevance on self-determination than the Baby Boomer did.


Team edges

Teams will change in the future. The tendency is towards virtual teams or project-related, decentralised associations. In a digital world where there is the freedom to realize oneself, the goals of employees and partners change.

Work processes become more flexible, faster and more efficient, and this goes hand in hand with a new corporate culture.


Functional edges

The function of a company is also subject to change. Platform society, digital organizations and omnichannel models are fundamentally changing classic corporate images. The role of an organization is different than it was a few years ago. The target group sets new priorities and has new needs and it is the task of the company to respond to them and adapt the departments, processes and functions.


Customer edges

It is hardly necessary to mention that customers have really changed fundamentally in their behaviour. They are digitally informed and more interested than ever in products.

At the same time, not only is the wide world open to you for business activities, but through Amazon and Co, your customers can also shop all over the world. Customer centricity is therefore crucial in a digital world.


Supplier/partner edges

The edges of their business are expanding. Partners and suppliers are now the source of valuable innovations. Approaches such as the Open-Innovation-Ansatz are increasingly shifting the organizational borders of companies.

As good managers, they need to extend these edges further to get the best inputs for their products, services and methods.


All these edges, if you read them as listed, overlap, result from the other or affect the other. Digital leadership is therefore a must in the VUCA world, the digital business world. I was once told that digital leadership was almost an old hat. If you look at the conferences of this world and the workshop rooms everywhere, it almost seems so. But very few digital leaders have really implemented it. So the question is not whether digital leadership has become a thing of the past, but why it’s chewing up.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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