Research Topic

The Challenge of Leading People in the Digital Transformation

About this Research Topic

Information technology is rapidly advancing in every industry and organizations are responding to an increasingly digital market environment by adding new job roles with an explicit digital focus. Business and organizational leaders need to know how to use the ‘internet of things’, virtual reality, big data, and machine learning for effectively attaining organizational goals. More importantly, digitalization is radically changing the way leaders interact, communicate, supervise and develop their followers. However, despite the proliferation of digital roles and responsibilities, most executives recognize that their companies are not adequately preparing for the industry changes they expect to emerge from digital trends. In a 2015 global survey of managers and executives conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, nearly 90% of respondents anticipate that their industries will be disrupted by digital trends to a great or moderate extent, but only 44% say their organizations are adequately preparing for the disruptions to come.

Considering both the opportunities and the complexities of digitalization, the main aim of this Research Topic is to publish research that theoretically and empirically advances understandings of how leaders negotiate the challenges associated with digitalization and digital transformation processes. We are looking for articles that utilize both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Some possible research questions that might be addressed by contributions in this Research Topic include:
• How is the digital economy reshaping the leader's role? Eg. Embarking on a new path of digital development calls for continuous innovation, rapid decision making, a global mindset, leading virtual teams, keeping people connected and engaged
• What competencies are required by leaders to handle effectively digitalization? Eg. Empirical evidence shows that the diffusion of artificial intelligence and the access to big data will redesign leaders’ tasks with an increasing amount of time spent in promoting innovation, developing business strategy, and creating and developing relationships. Therefore, leaders not only require digital skills but they also need to demonstrate signs of emotional and social intelligence.
• How are organizations developing digital leaders? Eg. In order to gain competitive advantage in the digital economy, organizations require rethinking the way to manage people. Thus, they need to redesign their approaches to leadership development.
• How will digitalization, which limits the physical interactions between leader and followers, change the processes of emotional contagion? Eg. Leader affective displays of his/her emotions - body language, verbal, and, in general, more subtle nonverbal communication – influence the behaviors and the performance of the followers.
• How leaders embrace the digital transformation in the vision they develop and communicate to their followers? Eg. Leaders play a crucial role in creating the appropriate organizational culture necessary to nurture the digital transformation.
• How leaders align people and processes to promote digital change in organizations? Leaders are asked to lead people through radical change and transform the business.


Keywords: Leadership, Digital Transformation, Competencies, Organizational Behavior, Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Information technology is rapidly advancing in every industry and organizations are responding to an increasingly digital market environment by adding new job roles with an explicit digital focus. Business and organizational leaders need to know how to use the ‘internet of things’, virtual reality, big data, and machine learning for effectively attaining organizational goals. More importantly, digitalization is radically changing the way leaders interact, communicate, supervise and develop their followers. However, despite the proliferation of digital roles and responsibilities, most executives recognize that their companies are not adequately preparing for the industry changes they expect to emerge from digital trends. In a 2015 global survey of managers and executives conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, nearly 90% of respondents anticipate that their industries will be disrupted by digital trends to a great or moderate extent, but only 44% say their organizations are adequately preparing for the disruptions to come.

Considering both the opportunities and the complexities of digitalization, the main aim of this Research Topic is to publish research that theoretically and empirically advances understandings of how leaders negotiate the challenges associated with digitalization and digital transformation processes. We are looking for articles that utilize both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Some possible research questions that might be addressed by contributions in this Research Topic include:
• How is the digital economy reshaping the leader's role? Eg. Embarking on a new path of digital development calls for continuous innovation, rapid decision making, a global mindset, leading virtual teams, keeping people connected and engaged
• What competencies are required by leaders to handle effectively digitalization? Eg. Empirical evidence shows that the diffusion of artificial intelligence and the access to big data will redesign leaders’ tasks with an increasing amount of time spent in promoting innovation, developing business strategy, and creating and developing relationships. Therefore, leaders not only require digital skills but they also need to demonstrate signs of emotional and social intelligence.
• How are organizations developing digital leaders? Eg. In order to gain competitive advantage in the digital economy, organizations require rethinking the way to manage people. Thus, they need to redesign their approaches to leadership development.
• How will digitalization, which limits the physical interactions between leader and followers, change the processes of emotional contagion? Eg. Leader affective displays of his/her emotions - body language, verbal, and, in general, more subtle nonverbal communication – influence the behaviors and the performance of the followers.
• How leaders embrace the digital transformation in the vision they develop and communicate to their followers? Eg. Leaders play a crucial role in creating the appropriate organizational culture necessary to nurture the digital transformation.
• How leaders align people and processes to promote digital change in organizations? Leaders are asked to lead people through radical change and transform the business.


Keywords: Leadership, Digital Transformation, Competencies, Organizational Behavior, Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2019 Manuscript
30 April 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2019 Manuscript
30 April 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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