Leadership 2025 - what will change in the future due to digitalisation and co.
The world is going digital. This is rapidly changing society, the economy and not least the leadership culture. Leaders are challenged to reinvent themselves and to develop and deepen competencies that were previously considered positive accessories at best. We give you an outlook on the challenges posed by the current developments and the leadership culture that is best suited to meet them.
Change through digitalisation
Industry 4.0, digitalisation, automation - these are defining terms of our time. They describe a development that is not new, but began with the onset of the industrial age in the 19th century. The goal is to make human labour increasingly simple, effective and scalable, and at some point obsolete. The computer age has accelerated this development, the internet, the use of artificial intelligence and last but not least the Corona pandemic have given it another energetic push.
This has consequences that are comprehensively changing society in general and the economy in particular - and at ever shorter intervals: Online meetings are replacing on-site meetings, remote work and home office are replacing physical presence, AI-driven process automation is replacing jobs and, increasingly, entire industries. But what specific qualities will tomorrow's managers need to keep your company competitive in the near future?
Leadership at a distance: new perspectives of professional interaction
The days of the authoritarian boss have long been numbered. Successful companies are making their decision-making processes increasingly democratic, rigid hierarchies are flattening out, and responsibility is increasingly being transferred to employees. This is not an attempt to implement utopian dreams, but a necessary reaction to changing environmental factors in the way we work.
One thing is important, however: hierarchies flatten, but they do not dissolve. Even in democratic systems there are decision-makers at the end. Leadership therefore does not become obsolete, it has to adapt to the new conditions. In doing so, the following points of view must be given special attention:
1. Digitalisation creates physical distance. Therein lie challenges and opportunities. Both must be taken into account in order to develop sustainable leadership concepts. However, no rigid templates should be used, but the peculiarities of the industry and your individual company should be included.
2. working from home makes working hours more flexible, eliminates the need for travel and ensures a better work-life balance. In addition, experts can be recruited who live far away from the company headquarters. This makes your company more attractive and ensures competitive advantages.
3. With increasing flexibility in individual work arrangements, the demand on employees to consistently organise their workday and avoid distractions also increases. This is not easy for everyone, as self-organisation is not a given for everyone and distractions are more numerous at the home office than in the office. Problems that arise should be addressed by your manager in an open dialogue with the aim of finding individual solutions together with the employee.
4. monitoring employees becomes more difficult, but in many cases it is no longer necessary. Performance reports are just a click away thanks to effective software, and success is no longer measured by hours worked or diligence, but increasingly by actual results.
5. employees are increasingly becoming specialists in their field, making and implementing their own decisions. Routine tasks are increasingly taken over by software solutions, which releases creative and holistic-cognitive potential. Employees are changing from executors to persons in charge, who need to be trained in a targeted manner. This creates increasingly heterogeneous teams, which increases the potential for conflict, but also for innovation and performance. The task of your manager is to accompany these valuable forces, to show them perspectives and to integrate them functionally as well as emotionally into the organisation and to take on a balancing and mediating role.
6. In this setting, responsibility is inevitably passed on from the manager to the staff, which can be perceived as a loss of power by the former. Managers are no longer the all-knowing individual decision-makers, but are increasingly becoming partners and initiators who maintain an overview, channel performance and, if necessary, intervene in an orderly manner so that goals are achieved. This releases potential on the part of managers that can be used strategically to make projects more successful and companies more competitive.
7. The technical innovations that enable and optimise remote working place greater demands on the technical understanding of all those involved. Software and hardware should be carefully checked for their suitability before use, employees adequately trained and data security considered. It is particularly important to actively involve conservative employees who are less familiar with technology. They often belong to older generations and therefore have knowledge and experience that younger, tech-savvy generations still lack, but which is invaluable for your company.
8. Physical distance makes it difficult to develop a sense of belonging. Managers should take care to involve employees emotionally so that they work enthusiastically and do not fall into blind service by the book. Giving up responsibility is valuable, but it is not enough. It is important to take on the role of a mentor who provides a big picture view, makes sense and is honestly interested in the needs of his or her team members. Regular and informal physical team meetings also help to create a sense of "we" and more identification with your organisation.
9 Managers are increasingly responsible for the health of their employees. This is due to the fact that while office equipment at the head office may be ergonomic and health-friendly, this may not always be the case at the home office. The decreasing costs for office equipment in the head office should therefore be invested in comparable equipment in the home office, so that back problems and other motor-related illnesses can be prevented.
10. the rapid flow of information and innovations requires adaptability, agility and flexibility from managers and employees alike. The market environment is becoming more unstable and less predictable, often requiring a quick response to change. If your organisation is international, broader language skills, intercultural competence and time zone management are also necessary.
New selection criteria for leaders of the future
The above 10-point list does not claim to be exhaustive. However, it clearly shows that managers in 2025 will have to be made of very flexible wood and have competences that are more in the area of soft skills and thus quite difficult to identify in common selection processes.
Here it is worth taking a critical look at your recruitment process. An adequate depth of analysis can be achieved, for example, by means of assessment centres with complex tasks that focus on interpersonal skills. Here, the individual needs of your company should be defined and appropriately incorporated into the assessment.
Another proven tool is regular management audits, which not only make competencies more tangible, but also reveal development opportunities. Last but not least, you should also draw on the trained eye of specialised personnel consultancies when selecting suitable managers of tomorrow. Above all, look for partners who have been on the market for a long time, share your industry focus and understand your corporate culture - and involve their expertise right from the start.