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Leading the digital enterprise requires a new kind of leadership. Why? People in the digital workplace may work together but never encounter each other directly. Workers may be engaged in a common pursuit but never be employees of the same organization. Smart machines will be integrated into the digital workplace to such an extent that distinctions between human and machine intelligence may no longer be obvious. Even the concepts of employee and employer are likely to change, replaced by combinations that are transient, yet remarkably productive.

Our research identified three game-changing trends that are redefining leadership. We make four predictions about what it takes to be a leader in the digital enterprise.



Leading the digital enterprise

Robert Thomas, MD of research on leadership, management and workforce effectiveness at the Accenture Institute for High Performance, explains the trends that are redefining leadership in a digital world:

Key Insights

Three trends are redefining leadership in a digital world:

Networks connect

Networks will replace hierarchy as the core principle of the organization. Leaders will need to eliminate bottlenecks in information flow, actively participate in global conversations and engage in provocative interactions.


Talent fragments

Workforces will continue to fragment. Leaders will need to integrate the workforce, share what is on their minds and extend the conversation to others to refine ideas.


Organizations open

Organizations and workforces will turn over more rapidly. Leaders will need to practice spiritual intelligence to bring people together and cultivate and articulate the organization’s purpose.

Organizations open

Where to next?

Four predictions for leading the digital enterprise:

You will live in your network

Be active in global conversations.

You will share your brain

Articulate strategic priorities in a compelling way.

You will have a machine on your leadership team

Use artificial intelligence as a new kind of intellectual brawn.

You will practice a new form of intelligence

Draw individuals together by means of shared purpose.


About the institute

The Accenture Institute for High Performance develops and communicates breakthrough ideas and practical insights on management issues, economic trends and the impact of new and improving technologies. Its worldwide team of researchers collaborates with Accenture’s strategy, digital, technology and operations leadership to demonstrate, through original, rigorous research and analysis, how organizations become and remain high performers.

John Cavaliero

    Robert J. Thomas

Managing director of research on leadership, management and workforce effectiveness
Accenture Institute for High Performance

Richard Amico

    Richard Amico

Thought Leadership Senior Research Analyst on leadership, management and workforce effectiveness Accenture Institute for High Performance