In times of digital transformation, managers of today and tomorrow have too much in their hands. Therefore they will almost not manage to act with two hands.

Leaders are confronted with agility and design thinking on the one hand, and clear structures, hierarchies and top-down management are often needed on the other. Julia Duwe addresses these two views in her book “Beidhändige Führung” (Ambidextrous Leadership). She focuses on the question of competencies managers need in the future for these challenges and uncertainties.

Evolution and revolution

If You want to “survive”, there is no “either-or”. Evolution and revolution happen simultaneously. Products and services must be developed further in a continuous improvement process to remain competitive in the form of evolution. When it comes to fundamental change, a revolution occurs. For example, there is a fusion of supposedly contradictory areas into a complete offer for the end consumer (hardware and software and additional service).

Other terms such as exploitation and exploration illustrate the complexity of the approaches. The challenge or skill in demand: the profits made through exploitation can be invested in exploration. Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushmann refer to this skill as ambidexterity.

The central message is that the different demands of today and tomorrow require an appropriate balance that needs to be “moderated” and organised accordingly. This requires the ability to lead with both hands.

Alongside familiar management systems (MBO, OKR), there is room for innovation-oriented management approaches that focus on networking. However, creating new interfaces across departmental boundaries and hierarchies does not mean the abolition of the same.

The art of ambidextrous leadership lies in connecting hierarchies and networks. Equally relevant is the realisation that separating innovative units has not proven successful.

From my point of view, the book is a recommendation if you want to learn more about this exciting approach. Fascinating is the chapter that uses case studies, interviews and concrete options for action to show how leaders can guide themselves and their teams through two worlds.

 This book was read and reviewed for 

 you by Thomas Wulz, MSc.

Rate this post