Requirements for the "modern" leader: Leadership Excellence in the context of Digital Leadership

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017

31 Pages


Table of contents

List of figures and tables

List of abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical foundations
2.1 Importance of Leadership & Leadership Roles
2.2 Competence profile of a manager and leadership dimensions
2.3 Classic management approaches
2.3.1 Person-centered leadership approaches
2.3.2 Behavioural leadership approaches
2.3.3 Situation-oriented management approaches
2.3.4 Interaction-oriented leadership approaches
2.4 Digitalization as the most important megatrend
2.4.1 Influence of digitalization
2.4.2 Evaluation in virtual teams

3. Changed requirements for managers
3.1 Shifts in competence
3.2 Roles of a manager
3.3 Changed management approaches
3.4 Changed management tasks

4. Conclusion


List of figures and tables

fig. 1: Framework model of leadership

fig. 2: Leadership styles according to Tannenbaum/Schmidt

fig. 3: Leadership styles according to the grid management concept

fig. 4: Influence of digitalization

fig. 5: Levels of digital transformation

fig. 6: Variables for feedback in virtual teams

fig. 7: VIST model

fig. 8: Competence profile of a modern manager

fig. 9: Four central roles of a modern leader

fig. 10: Management tasks as a cycle

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Introduction

Megatrends such as advancing globalization, individualization and digitization have an impact on social, ecological and political levels. In particular, digitization as one of the most important trends in 2017 and the associated manifestations with regard to increasing networking via the Internet ultimately culminate in Industry 4.0.1 As a result, companies are increasingly under pressure due to disruptive innovations and changing demands of society. Above all, the term "digital transformation" has established itself in order to describe the ongoing change process within companies. This process affects both micro-enterprises and global players and should therefore be firmly anchored in the corporate strategy in order to be able to operate competitively on the market in the long term.

The increasing competitive pressure and the resulting fierce competition also has an impact on managers and employees at the company level. In order to survive on the market, it is therefore important for companies to adapt at the organizational level. Due to their central role, executives in particular find themselves in an environment that is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). distinguishes At the same time, a complex, dynamic working environment requires a change in values towards meaningful and co-determining activities. In addition, virtual collaboration within and outside the company is becoming increasingly important.2 However, it is still evident that many companies tolerate weaknesses in leadership behavior as long as the operating result is right.3

In the future, however, a paradigm shift away from the authoritarian leader to the leader who integrates into a team and motivates employees will have to take place so that Germany remains competitive. In a study by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, more than three quarters of the approximately 400 German executives surveyed support this view.4

As a result, this study thesis therefore deals with the requirements of "modern" leaders. For this purpose, theoretical basics are explained at the beginning. In this way, the concept of leadership is defined more precisely, but also classic models with regard to leadership roles, leadership dimensions and leadership approaches are examined in more detail. Subsequently, the megatrend of digitization and the associated need for special evaluation models for virtual teams will be presented. Based on this, it is derived to what extent these theories are still valid in times of the VUCA environment and what changed requirements are placed on modern managers. In the last chapter, the findings of the study work are briefly summarized and a conclusion is drawn.

2. Theoretical foundations

Initially, it is important to take a closer look at the basics of leadership theory in order to record on the one hand what leadership actually means in the original context and what leadership roles executives in a company actually assume. In addition, it is clarified which leadership approaches exist and how they differ. In addition, the assessment of a manager's abilities is illustrated on the basis of a competence profile.

2.1 Importance of Leadership & Leadership Roles

The term "leadership" describes a very complex construct that is subject to continuous change due to dynamic economic and social development. According to Wunderer, leadership refers to all behaviors that are aimed at goal-oriented influence to fulfill common tasks in or with a structured work situation.5

In the past, this was mainly differentiated between corporate management and personnel management. While the former includes the influence, control and control of entire systems or companies, personnel management, on the other hand, deals with influencing the performance and behavior of employees. The purpose of personnel management is also to influence employee behavior in such a way that they perform the best possible work in order to optimally cope with the tasks set and to solve any problems that may arise. To this end, it is important for managers to create a working environment that enables them to cope optimally with their tasks. In addition, managers must establish a harmonious relationship between the company's goals and the personal interests of employees.

In the course of this, "management" and "leadership" are two terms that are often used synonymously, but they must be differentiated from each other. While managers manage procedures and processes and are thus assigned to corporate management, the focus of leaders lies in the inspiration and motivation of guided leaders. Kotter describes management as the accomplishment of complex tasks, while leadership deals with change and the implementation of visions. Nevertheless, both directives would have to go hand in hand in order to allow complex organizations to act reliably and efficiently.6

2.2 Competence profile of a manager and leadership dimensions

As the previous chapter has shown, managers must bear a great responsibility not only on a technical and methodological level, but also on a personal and social level. From this, the most important competencies that a manager should display can be derived. The interplay of professional, methodological, social and personal competencies ultimately results in the leadership competence of a person.

In principle, participation or delegation, task and employee orientation are three central management dimensions that are interdependent. The first describes the participation orientation, which is reflected in the motivation of the employees. This indirectly leads to a higher identification with the company and thus indirectly increases work performance and satisfaction. Along with this, a high level of employee orientation ensures increased satisfaction and thus leads to low absenteeism and low fluctuation. The task orientation ultimately has an effect on a higher output in terms of benefits in kind.7

2.3 Classic management approaches

Leadership is a complex, dynamic and abstract construct, which is why there are different views on the characterization of leaders. This results in various theoretical approaches including specific interpretation concepts. According to Wunderer, the individual leadership theories are intended to explain and predict the conditions, structures, processes, causes and consequences of leadership.8 Commonality of all theories is the focus on individual variables of leadership.

Until the 20th century, the relationship between leaders and leaders was hardly noticed. Rather, the focus was on the person of the leader, who exerts a one-sided influence in the direction of the led.9 For this reason, the extent to which personalities with a claim to leadership differ from subordinate employees was also primarily investigated in science.

Rosenstiel outlined a general model to visualize the determinants of leadership success.

fig. 1: Framework model of leadership

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten10

In the course of the 20th century, there has been a shift in the study of the decisive factors in what constitutes good leaders from the assumption that there were born leaders to the assumption that leadership can be learned. Furthermore, the influence of specific situations and employee interaction was also given a higher value, which, according to Wunderer, results in four central leadership theories, which will be presented in more detail in the following chapters.11

2.3.1 Person-centered leadership approaches

Person-centered leadership approaches provide explanations for empirically observable behavior. A distinction is made between leader-centered and guided-centered approaches.

The former theory dates back to the early 20th century and describes the assumption that leaders are predestined as leaders from birth and regardless of the influence of leaders. A closer look also reveals further differences. In the course of trait theory, for example, a lot of attention is paid to the consideration of character traits. In addition to physical characteristics such as size, strength and stature of the personality, psychological characteristics such as assertiveness, charisma, social competence or intelligence were used as classification features. Until the middle of the 20th century, people spoke of "great men" or "heroes\12 which mainly includes historical leaders from politics, the military and the social sector. From an employee's point of view, such managers are hierarchically privileged due to the above-called objectively and subjectively observable characteristics. This results in a top-down hierarchy, whereby superiors directly influence employees.

The focus on individual characteristics responsible for success or failure in the management area is nevertheless one of the biggest criticisms of this theory, which is why it is nowadays generally classified as outdated.

The participatory, guided-centered approach, on the other hand, can be understood as an alternative to the directive, person-centered approach. He describes a "bottom-up" approach. This means that managed employees influence the leader much more than they do. The behavior of the manager is therefore more of a reaction to the perceived behavior of the employees.13

2.3.2 Behavioural leadership approaches

In the further course of the early 20th century, in the course of behavior-oriented leadership, greater importance was attached to the relationship between the leader and the leader.14 In the course of this, various leadership styles were determined, which illustrate the interaction between the decision-making of the supervisor and the influence of employees.

Kurt Lewin was one of the first to distinguish between three basic leadership styles. He described leadership as either authoritarian, democratic or laissez-faire leadership, which means that superiors largely do not interfere with work processes. Rather, employees would act independently and within their team.

Tannenbaum & Schmidt delineated these styles more precisely and classified them based on the decision-making leeway of the superior or the guided. Their theory is based on the leadership styles developed by Kurt Lewin "authoritarian" and "democratic" as opposing poles of a continuum. Between these two extremes, they made five gradations.

fig. 2: Leadership styles according to Tannenbaum/Schmidt

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten15

The clearest difference to person-centered leadership is the assumption that leadership behavior can be learned and trained.16 However, the criticism of this theory is the one-dimensional premise that only one variant of leadership is possible, not several at the same time.17

Based on this, the management consultants Blake and Mouton derived 81 different leadership styles, which in addition to employee orientation also attach greater importance to performance and task orientation (see point 2.2). Of these 81 leadership styles, however, only five have an independent meaning as key leadership styles. All others are based on these five styles, so they always represent only new variations of performance or employee orientation.


1 cf. Institut für angewandte Arbeitswissenschaft (Trendbarometer 2016), S. 3.

2 cf. Von Au, Corinna (Ed.) (Führungsansätze2016), p. 2.

3 cf. DGFP (Personalführung 2011), p. 40f.

4 cf. Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (Führungskultur 2016), P. 9.

5 cf. Wunderer, Rolf (Führungslehre 2007), P. 204.

6 cf. Kotter, John Paul (Leadership 2013).

7 cf. Von Rosenstiel, Lutz (Führungserfolg 2010), p. 4f.

8 cf. Wunderer, Rolf (Führungslehre 2007), P. 50.

9 cf. Stippler, Maria/Moore, Sadie/Rosenthal, Seth (Führung 2010), P. 1.

10 Based on Von Rosenstiel, Lutz/ Peter, Dirk/Glas, Peter (Kompetenzmanagement 2013), p. 185.

11 cf. Wunderer, Rolf (Führungslehre 2007), p. 49ff.

12 cf. Macharzina, Klaus/Wolf, Joachim (Unternehmensführung 2008), P. 571.

13 cf. Schmidt, Burkhard (Überprüfung 2011), P. 95.

14 cf. Von Au, Corinna (Ed.) (Führungsansätze 2016), P. 9.

15 Based on Tannenbaum Robert/Schmidt, Warren H. (Leadership 1958), p. 95ff.

16 cf. Lippold, Dirk (Unternehmensberatung 2013), P. 537.

17 cf. Scholz, Christian (Personalmanagement 2011), p. 392f.

Excerpt out of 31 pages


Requirements for the "modern" leader: Leadership Excellence in the context of Digital Leadership
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requirements, leadership, excellence, digital
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Stefan Reinpold (Author), 2017, Requirements for the "modern" leader: Leadership Excellence in the context of Digital Leadership, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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