Digital transformation has become the buzzword of our age, and while the economy is becoming ever more digital, the demands on management are constantly growing.
The expectations on managers in respect of their digitization skills are increasing, and this is expressed clearly in the vacancies that are waiting to be filled. And not just in the IT-related job descriptions: requirements are also tending increasingly towards digitization in many positions quite unrelated to IT. Most specialists are classically trained and have not experienced digitization in a focused manner or via training. In their leadership role, they are now being tested in a new and completely different manner.
What is digital competence?
The most important thing is the ability to continuously acquire and implement new knowledge. It’s also crucial in a complex world to keep track of the situation, identify problems and work towards solutions. With regard to the strategic alignment of a company, executives are in demand from the planning stage onwards: to set the course of the company with their expertise and know-how. Once digital transformations are implemented in the company, managers need to be able to support the strategy, lead the employees and, in the best case, to inspire them even.
A “digital” executive needs certain skills
Helping employees adapt to the new situation is one of the most important tasks of a manager in the digital environment. Specifically, this means that they need to ensure that their staff receive additional training quickly and reshape tasks so that the full potential of an employee comes into play.
The classic skills such as empathy, assertiveness and complexity management remain important, as well as technical skills. But in an environment where new jobs are being created constantly with new, modified requirements, digital competence is vital.
Going digital – getting there
Most companies offer their employees training, professional change management with external support. This gets employees fully involved and, at the same time, provides them the freedom to make and implement innovations. In doing so, they create new and sometimes unexpected opportunities. There is a downside, however: there is often too little space, time and budget available, and no one really knows for sure how much time remains for the transformation. This is certainly the greatest risk – not being fast enough. But where it succeeds, digitization will bring more flexibility into the labour market. The workplace itself plays an ever-smaller role, because nowadays it is possible to exchange data almost everywhere via digital channels. And this exchange remains very important – even in the digital age – because a manager still works in close cooperation with his or her employees, regardless of whether they possess these digital skills or not.
Andreas Wartenberg has 25 years of experience as a personnel consultant and fills management positions in the technology sector and other industries.