Digital Leadership

Which competences will your managers need in the future?

In times of digitalization not only the requirements for technical equipment in your company change or the skills of your employees regarding new technologies. Also the demands on executives and managers change tremendously. In the context of the congredi cologne 2016 we took a closer look at the necessary skills for future managers during our workshop “Digital Leadership – which competences will your managers need in the future?“ 

In order to identify relevant competences for the future manager it helps to make yourself aware of what happens in their (work) environment. Next to the flexibilisation of workplace and working time, future managers are confronted with the demands of generation Y and Z but also with flatter hierarchies and a need for participation. They should provide orientation even under permanently changing conditions but at the same time give each individual room for personal development. 

Graphic Recording of the workshop
Graphic Recording of the workshop "Digital Leadership"

The often quoted competence with regards to management in times of digitalization is agility. We look at agility in this context as a meta competence since its different facets include multiple other competences. 

Agility means mobility as well as vitality. Concerning digital leadership, agility is the ability to react proactively with a maximum flexibility and adaptability to any kind of change or uncertainties. In order to make agility more manageable for personnel selection and development a differentiated view is needed to identify which abilities facilitate agility at work. 

  Based on a systematic research we identified the following ten competences as key competences for future managers in different studies*:


  1. Complexity management
  2. Ambiguity tolerance (withstanding uncertainties)
  3. Diversity (using diversity in a positive way)
  4. Willingness and ability to learn (questioning oneself, adapting own behaviour)
  5. Self-reflection
  6. Cooperation (participatory management style)
  7. Networking (making contacts and socializing)
  8. Empathy
  9. Conveying a sense of purpose
  10. Credibility (create trust)

But also other soft skills such as communication abilities, system knowledge, effective self-guidance, creating trust and leading by communicating a vision are currently relevant abilities which are indispensable for the future managers according to scientific research.

Interactive competence evaluation via app

What do HR professionals themselves say about this? Which competences do they think are indispensable and which can be waived in their company?

As a base for the discussion we encouraged everyone to evaluate the key competencies mentioned earlier with our app ki.pairs. The results of the group varied widely depending on the company, branch and individual focus.

Personnel development 4.0 – what it could look like

In order to support you and your company on the way to workplace 4.0, we have conceptualized a modular development program in cooperation with Horváth Academy, which optimally prepares your Digital Leaders for the changes of the future workplace. Together with your company, we identify which core competencies your managers and employees need the most. We provide you with a development program with a modular design so that you can integrate it smoothly into your own development and training opportunities. This program is aligned with your company-specific requirements and the target group. We convey the competencies of the future workplace with the right mix of innovative and proven methods. In presence- and online-based modules we employ techniques such as open-space, panel discussions, criminal cases or design-thinking. Proven methods such as systemic organisation constellations, company-specific case studies and coachings underpin the enhancement of leadership skills. We are looking forward to accompany and support your company on the way to the future workplace.


  • Petry, T. (2016). Digital Leadership ? Unternehmens-und Personalführung in der Digital Economy. Digital Leadership: Erfolgreiches Führen in Zeiten der Digital Economy, 21.
  • Ciesielski, M. A., & Schutz, T. (2016). Digitale Führung: Wie die neuen Technologien unsere Zusammenarbeit wertvoller machen. Berlin: Springer.
  • Velten, C. et al. (2015). Digital Leader – Leadership im digitalen Zeitalter. Crisp Research.