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Sustainable leadership in the age of digitalisation

The manager has a new role. Long gone is the patron saint of the mill who stuck his thumbs inside his suspenders and shouted out orders. New technologies and new values are changing not only how we work and how we communicate, but also the expectations we have of ourselves and of the company. With employees constantly connected, the line between work and leisure is becoming blurred. How can you, as a modern manager, manage this and create sustainable leadership?

A new type of sustainable leadership

Jimmy Oldén is CEO and founder of the CEO network Friends of Executive. His work includes business consulting and personal development for executives. Jimmy has seen a new type of leadership emerge, moving from authoritarian leadership where managers pointed with their whole hand to being more inclusive. With digitalisation comes new technology that affects the way we work. Change, evolution and disruption have become watchwords in boardrooms that demand constant curiosity. What happens to teams and employees when processes, offerings and business models are constantly redesigned?

  • As a leader today, you need to see the people in the change. That's always been the case, but the difference today is that with digitalisation it's happening much faster and affecting companies and people more deeply than before, says Jimmy.

Now everyone is always available

When Apple released the iPhone in the spring of 2007, everything changed. It gave companies new opportunities to offer more flexible ways of working and give employees more freedom. The way we communicate in our private and professional lives is now very different from the days before smart phones. Among the benefits of flexibility is the ability to have more control over where and when we work, but there are also risks. Overnight, we all became available 24/7.

Sustainable leadership in a new era

The new collaboration tools allow us all to be more productive while being less tied to the office. But a culture where employees feel they are expected to be available 24/7 does not benefit the company in the long run. According to Jimmy Oldén, building a sustainable work culture starts with managers living as they are taught and not emailing in the evenings and weekends. The next step is to sit down with employees and discuss expectations and concerns about flexible working. Look at how collaborative platforms and tools can create the greatest benefit for both the company and the employees.

  • In a modern and sustainable company, managers help their employees to find a work-life balance by taking advantage of new tools and flexible working.

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Working life is being transformed

The whole labour market is changing and many companies are currently finding it difficult to recruit. The new generation now entering the workforce is looking at company values, company culture and looking for a "fun factor" - it should be fun to go to work. At the same time, it is important that there are opportunities to develop and be challenged, and to have access to the latest digital tools.

Other management challenges are linked to the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. How do you deal with employees' concerns about new technology affecting their daily work? Concerns that need to be managed from an employee perspective. It's about making visible the opportunities AI offers the company and the employees.

  • The key is to see it as a lifelong learning - about constantly learning new things and being curious. If you don't understand how the world is changing, how can you lead a company through change?

The new boss

As a manager, you may be prepared to accept a slightly higher workload, but if it is constantly at its peak, you should ask yourself if you are doing the right things, have the right tools and if you are a good role model for your employees.

According to Jimmy, the path to success is self-leadership, starting with yourself. Ask yourself what culture you want to create, what behaviours you have and how they affect the organisation. According to Jimmy, some concrete tips include communicating a lot, talking about the challenges in organisations and having a clear framework for flexible working.

  • Those who do not develop risk being dismantled! Create a culture that encourages curiosity and where employees dare to question and try new things. Then learn from failure. If there is a fear of failure, development stops and then the company stops," concludes Jimmy.

Does your company have the digital tools and culture to meet future challenges and succeed with sustainable leadership? In AddPro's OptimizeIT workshop you will gain insight into tools that will help you streamline processes and thereby help your employees find work-life balance. Contact us at and we'll tell you more.