Digital Technologies in Leadership Development – Insights into Best Practices

Digitalization is transforming vast areas of our economy and society, and the ways organizations operate. New ways of leadership are therefore in demand. Managers and employees today experience how digital transformation creates new challenges and opportunities for leadership and collaboration. And managers are faced with fundamental questions: Which leadership behavior is sensible and necessary? What is changing, what should (still) be considered? And what are vital competencies?

In order to be able to answer these questions, universities are in particular demand, because it is precisely there that essential knowledge is created through new research findings. The programs of the Executive & Professional Education of the TUM School of Management start exactly where current, scientifically based findings meet relevant questions from practice, e.g. in cooperation with Infineon Technologies AG.


Clear Principles for Successful Leadership

To ensure flexibility and adaptability to rapidly changing business environments, ambitious growth targets, digitalization and dynamic markets, Infineon developed clear principles for successful leadership. The vision: Leadership principles as an integral part of culture and corporate strategy create a common understanding of what leadership at Infineon means. To achieve this, the Infineon Leadership Principles had to be successfully disseminated throughout the organization and brought to life. Infineon needed an approach that allowed managers to reflect on their leadership behavior and actively supported them in applying the principles. The solution had to work for leaders with different cultural and professional backgrounds and be flexible and globally applicable as on-the-job training. TUM’s excellence in leadership research and our experience in creating customized programs led to a successful partnership.


Innovative Technologies in Leadership Development

Among other things, the project used a scientifically based leadership questionnaire and a digital coaching app to promote the transfer of knowledge. With the help of the online questionnaire, a so-called Leadership Profile was created for all participants, which, based on self-reflection and feedback, shows individual strengths and development areas and identifies potential with regard to the Leadership Principles. This enabled managers to compare their self-image with external perception and thus assess the effectiveness of their current behavior. Subsequently, TUM provided managers with a digital coaching app to encourage them to continue self-reflection and develop behavioral routines. Because our research shows, only the implementation of what has been learned leads to sustainable changes in people. Together, the TUM Leadership Profile and the digital coaching app cover the four core elements of our training approach, which is based on many years of scientific work: theory transfer, self-reflection, feedback, and tools and techniques for implementation.

Innovative technologies like these allow us to create purely digital programs and a long-term development in leadership behavior. Classic elements of face-to-face trainings however, can benefit from the use of technology, too. In our leadership trainings, we use 360° VR leadership videos to enable learners to experience different leadership styles and to reflect on their own behavior in a safe environment. Virtual reality allows an immersive, more realistic learning experience compared to conventional role-playing games, which can be repeated very easily and several times in different roles. At the Center for Digital Leadership Development, we are convinced that digital technologies are not only a driver for change, but also hold a special potential for completely rethinking personnel development and training.


Best Practices from Science and Business

The TUM panel at the Personnel Management Congress 2020 on 15 September will also focus on new, digital approaches to executive education, which enable self-experience in virtual worlds and the long-term anchoring of what has been learned in everyday life. Representatives from Wacker Neuson and d-fine will join representatives from TUM to provide insights into best practices for using digital technologies in leadership programs.

Find more information about the panel on September 15 here.


Dr. Emanuel Schreiner

Dr. Emanuel Schreiner is a scientist and executive trainer. As Senior Manager for Leadership Research & Development at the Center for Digital Leadership Development of the TUM, he develops solutions for the continuing education of the future using digital technologies and advises organizations on questions of personnel development. His research and training focus on (digital) leadership, (virtual) teamwork, creativity, and innovation.

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