April 10, 2018

Leadership in the Digital Era

Written by: Angela Pecoraro, Senior Consultant, AIMS International Italy

AIMS International EMEA Meeting, Moltrasio

The topic of organisational leadership is currently at the forefront of business conversations and quite understandably so, considering the current challenges that companies are facing, as well as the big changes that interest us and, in many cases, overwhelm our lifestyles, our habits and the macro and micro economic scenarios.

The digital revolution, which is inevitably involving companies worldwide, has had a particularly explosive impact on the more “traditional” firms forcing companies to rethink their leadership models and create new fertile grounds for innovation.

AIMS International is no newcomer to this topic and recently organised a convention on Leadership in the Digital Era during the EMEA meeting held at Moltrasio, Como on 23 March.

The vast experience, cultures, values and professional profiles of the speakers, each different to the other, gave birth to an intellectually stimulating debate, rich with diverse new insights.

Josef Minster, CEO of the Schlemmer Group, gave the introductory speech to open the event and made a strong impact with the frank and practical way in which he described the organisation, the culture and leadership style in his company.

Thereafter, introducing the roundtable and the main topic of the debate was Professor FJ Radermacher from the University of Ulm.  Prof. Radermacher’s thought-provoking discussions and clarity of thinking entertained the audience immensely. Through references to the remote and more recent past he identified certain key points to interpret the present as well as predict future trends.

The roundtable which followed saw an exchange of information and a comparison of experiences lived by managers who are dealing with changes due to digitalisation in their respective organisations and markets.  These views were discussed from a human resource, information technology and naturally from a business and organisational perspective.

This interesting session was moderated by Enrico Sassoon, Editor in Chief at Harvard Business Review Italy.

The revolution of Enterprise 4.0 has a strong impact on both production methods and workplace organisation. In companies with an even flatter structure there are changes to the way leadership is practised, seeing a reduced focus on command and control and even less hierarchy. The “digital” leader is the manager who can achieve the collective mission in mobilising energy and creating work environments that foster innovation and continuous learning.

Whirlpool’s experience with digitalisation, per example, started from the bottom, creating a base of competencies across all levels, followed by various specialisations. The company participates in – and guides digitalisation and it has become part of its DNA. As the very bright and clear-headed Dr. Andrea Ciccolini, CIO of Whirlpool EMEA explained to us, awareness of the relationship between strategic objectives and organisational tools is key.

The true leader in this scenario according to Dr. Oliviero Bernardi, HR Director of Nexi, is the person who knows how to manage a path of re-skilling, the manager who guides this process in which the mere hierarchy and especially the various competencies are constantly transformed and orientated towards the organisation itself. His analysis of the fallen ethics and social issues related to this process was extremely interesting, with a vision emerging of the company in an osmosis-like relationship with the external world.

Dr. Franco Valgoi, Business Unit Director of Bosch Rexroth Italy, contributed towards the debate providing a stimulating key point about the relationship between new technology, daily life and business models.

The biggest challenge beyond the digital era however, is in the hands of the new generation; Those who grew up whilst always being connected and sharing everything, those having the increasing tendency to value work, not only as a means to “making money” but also in relation to its ability to allow us to live better, both with ourselves and with others.

Written by: Angela Pecoraro, Senior Consultant, AIMS International Italy

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