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Intrapreneurship: Leadership in the Digital Age

How can companies adapt to digital transformation? This is one of the key questions every organization should ask itself in today’s business world. In his article in „Handelsblatt Spezial: New Work“, Stefan Merx summarizes the insights of Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus, TUM Vice President for Talent Management & Diversity and Founding Director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning, and Martina van Hettinga, Managing Partner of the recruitment consultancy company „i-potentials“, on the changes digital innovation demands of our leaders.

It is becoming clear that the essential component of digital transformation is actually people rather than technology. It is not sufficient that companies only adapt changes in digital technologies and in their business models, rather they must integrate their transformative approach into all aspects of the brand’s business, including management. „Leadership in the digital age requires a new mindset.“ says Prof. Dr. Peus, emphasizing the importance of innovative management thinking.

Intrapreneurs – Leaders of Today

In order to successfully face the challenges of digital innovation, Martina van Hettinga points out that organizations need so-called Intrapreneurs, who can combine a strong entrepreneurial spirit with the ability of changing established organizational structures. She gives further tips on how to recognize an intrapreneur: “Their curiosity drives them not to rest on their skills, but to constantly learn new things. They have the courage and pioneering spirit to challenge the status quo.” Van Hettinga explains, that intrapreneurs are solution oriented, while they use their strong stakeholder management skills to successfully implement their innovative approach in the supervisory and advisory board level.

Characteristics of an Ideal Manager Profile in the Digital Age

Prof. Dr. Peus indicates that aside from their networking and digital skills, managers always have to consider basic human needs – in the end it all comes up to the seemingly simple question: “What makes people tick?“

According to Van Hettinga, intrapreneurs are curious, creative and results oriented. She explains that the ideal type has successfully built up digital companies themselves, but also has corporate experience or worked in a management consultancy.

There is no doubt that companies who have the ability to integrate changes in technology into the leadership mindset of their organization will be one or two steps ahead of competitors in future.

At TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning, this approach is at the heart of our Executive Education offerings. By bringing in experts, including leading researchers from our Teamwork and Leadership in the Digital Age research group we help our participants take the first steps towards a responsible leadership style fit for the future.

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