Discussion Paper of the Institute for Organisational Economics 11/2019

The Digital Leader 
What One Needs to Master Today’s Organisational Challenges

Milan Frederik Klus/Julia Müller
November 2019



Executives are increasingly facing various challenges associated with digitalisation, ranging from digitally mapping their existing business processes to fundamentally changing their business models. In this context, however, few studies have investigated which skills and traits executives need to successfully master digitalisation-related challenges. While some contributions suggest and systematise leadership skills, we go one step further and conduct a survey to investigate the connection between selected skills and executives’ abilities to cope with specific challenges. Based on our results, executives that are well equipped to cope with these challenges tend to think and act entrepreneurially, have strong (self-)organisation and IT skills, a profound ability to motivate others, and a high degree of flexibility, commitment, and creativity. Surprisingly, being a strong team player does not seem to be necessarily advantageous. Moreover, many executives desire more calmness, which suggests that being able to decelerate is important in the digital age.