Cultivating transformational leadership

Dr. Thomas Götz outlines the benefits of transformational leadership. 

In a world that is increasingly dependent on digital technology, it is important to develop employees that are fluent in this area. Understand what digital transformation means for you, become an authentic role model in open management and use it for your own improvement and always be aware that continuous self-calibration is key. 

To understand what digital transformation means to you, you must check your own work habits. Ask yourself whether you are fit enough across the spectrum of practical leadership styles, check your self-organisation down to the basics of time management and dependency management, and take stock of what is in your general management method toolbox.

By ensuring that your own work habits are effective, you can more easily communicate how other workers can structure their habits.

To be an authentic role model, it is important to show empathy and appreciation for a rich spectrum of cultures and heritage, be open to new ideas, and also welcome challengers of your ideas. Further, establish a learning culture instead of a zero-defect or no-error culture and share findings and content with your people thoroughly and proactively.

It is important that you understand how your team culture impacts its digital problem-solving capability and proactively migrate any risks.

Seek out multiple viewpoints and ask for deviating viewpoints to ensure that you are tackling an issue from all angles. Empower cross-team work wherever possible and demonstrate passion in all facets of your work.

Looking internally, it is also important to take self-calibration into consideration. Challenge yourself to be even more clear on purpose, focus, and direction when leading your team into digital initiatives. Don’t be afraid to lead and share tangible strategies, so that others know why they see you as a leader and why they are willing to follow.

Understand the shadow you are casting for your people—what is enabled by your leadership style and approach, and what is most likely not happening just because you are how you are. From there, establish strong feedback loops with your team for self-calibration.

You should inspire people to want to listen to you instead of them just following you because they’ve been told to do so.

Beyond that, it is important that you understand how your team culture impacts its digital problem-solving capability and proactively migrate any risks. A strong team culture allows for faster integration, better reputation, enables increased productivity and yields higher effectiveness and efficiency.

However, there is a limiting factor.

This can be described by over-estimating one’s capabilities, reducing your sensitivity to environmental and ecosystem changes, cognitive filtering and becoming a barrier for strategic change, structural change, innovation, and willingness to learn.

Be sure not to transform a legacy organisational silo from the past into a digital organisational silo of tomorrow, without having improved your competitiveness and problem-solving capability.

Additionally, there is a strong need and value contribution from instruments that are not ‘digital by nature’, and which are not as impacted by strong self-cultures because of their effectiveness as strong standing, visible, and transparent management tools.

As a transformational leader, you should have some of them in your toolbox; by combining these tools with the new digital intelligence and agility you and your team have achieved, you can make a significant difference.

From personal experience, I have learned that portfolio management provides great potential to enable transformational leadership. Establishing portfolio thinking across your varied value propositions, initiatives, assets, and resources – including talent – enables you to build a bridge between longer-term objectives and the shorter-term necessities.

Multiple views and metrics can represent multiple, equally important perspectives. For example, micro-performance considerations, as well as a macro-view on technology and market dynamics, can help you understand go-to market timing issues.

A properly set up and visualised portfolio, aligned across multiple dimensions, shows the correspondence of the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘when’ to multiple stakeholders, which can be highly motivating for your team if you embark on it with clear explanations of the concept behind it.

When combined with a lightweight, agile innovation pipeline process, where each qualified idea and development initiative led by your talent is considered for your portfolio, portfolio management can become a very dynamic and strong instrument to involve all of your team and give your talent opportunities to contribute.


About the author

Dr. Thomas Götz is Group Vice President, Global Head of Technology Strategy & Transformation at Atos. Email him at


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