Some Thoughts on the Challenges of Leadership in the Digital Age

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Digitisation brings about a new need for competent leadership. Today, we’ll take a look at the most dramatic changes.

Leadership in the digital age will be one of the defining themes of Global Female Leaders 2017. If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to take a look at our 2017 agenda in order to discover every highlight of this year’s event!

In the digital age, competent leadership may be the most important skill any company can cultivate. Because digitisation changes companies. It changes working cultures and processes, customer behaviour and corporate communications. It also brings about a new need for, as well as new risks of corporate communications. Let’s just look at three of them!

Challenge 1: Digitisation changes the working culture

Karikatur Digitalisierung

It challenges employer-employee relationships.

This challenge has multiple facets. On the one hand, workers demand a digitised and modern work environment. In private, most of them use smartphones, social media and consumer electronics that fit their needs. Of course they want access to the most comfortable and hip devices at work, too. At the same time, employment changes too. We can see more and more freelancers, armed with laptops and Starbucks coffees, who will do project work and move on to the next job thereafter.

It challenges the way we communicate. 

Digitisation also changes the way we communicate. This goes especially for the younger generations who prefer text messages of meetings, but who also have new ideas on hierarchy and teamwork. This brings about a new potential for conflicts within an organisation, since the expectations towards work can vary drastically between the members of the now four generations that work within most companies.

In essence, digitisation diversifies the means of, expectations towards and ways to put into practice communications and work in general.

Challenge 2: Digitisation changes customer behaviour and brings about the need to stay innovative

This is a big one! Similar to the expectations of employees, the expectations of customers are changing, too. Customers today are all about personalised products, about subscribing to platforms rather than buying commodities for good. They also want to talk their companies on Facebook and Twitter, read reviews on their products and chime in when they have ideas about product innovation.

This brings about the need for organisations to stay agile, innovative and fast. It brings about a new kind of competition, namely the race towards developing the most consumer-friendly business models and bringing them to market as fast as possible. Most of those are also data-driven and demand a high level of cooperation between the different units of organisation. Also, let’s not forget that many companies are forced to bring in new skills and know-how in order to branch out.

In essence, this puts pressure on old organisational structures, forces us to dissolve the boundaries between departments and change the way they work together.

Challenge 3: Digitisation changes corporate communications

Employees as well as customers change how they interact with companies. And in turn, this changes corporate communications. It becomes more transparent and has to become more honest and open. Within this big shift leaders will have to adopt new strategies in order to guide their organisations towards a digital mindset.


At Global Female Leaders 2017, we will challenge this topic in a big way. We are ecstatic to welcome two women to an Exclusive Interview that have profound knowledge of these exact challenges.

One of them is Jacki Kelley, COO of Bloomberg Media, USA.Jacki is widely credited with disrupting traditional business models to successfully meet client objectives across the publishing and advertising industries. As COO of a global media giant she will tell us about Digital Leadership and about “How to Walk the Talk”. The other one is Alejandra Lagunes Soto-Ruiz. She coordinates the National Digital Strategy of Mexico and has held leadership positions in companies such as Yahoo, MSN and Google. Since her country as been a focal point of the American news media during the last years we are very interested in what she has to say about how responsible leadership looks like in politics!

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Reflections on Diversity, Parity and Equality

In the exclusive interview with Martina Macpherson, speaker at the Global Female Leaders 2018, we are celebrating women's achievements but also discussing past developments and key equality issues. How do you achieve constant positive performance with gender diverse teams? And most importantly, how will the female workforce change in future?