Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Leadership 4.0: A Game With No “Checkmate”

"Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals."

Beatrice Barbazzeni
Beatrice Barbazzeni

“Leaders need to know themselves in order to be able to lead others.” (Stefan Katanic)

Have you ever played chess? If yes, you can relate that sensation of planning your next move always in advance, but also foreseeing the move of your counterpart. Planning or anticipating a move is a strategy, preventing a “checkmate” is a strategy, and predicting which chess pawn your opposing gamer will move is again a strategy.

You might read an entire book on chess rules, strategies, openings, or best moves but it’s the practice, the talent, and the attitude of being focused that would probably make you the winner. Your mind needs to think faster than your hands are capable of moving, and your eyes need to see longer and wider than the sight directed right over the board. When you fail, your memory should encode that experience into a continuous learning process in order to avoid and prevent that mistake from happening again, in the future.

You may wonder why am I talking about chess? What has it in common with the topic of today’s article? Well, I play chess almost every day. I find it a very clever way to train my mind, clear my thoughts, and structuring my actions. It’s me, leading the game with my chess pawns. Winning or losing is my only responsibility; a responsibility that should be trained and empowered daily by failing and learning to succeed. I consider chess a valuable method able to develop an attentive and strategic mindset while directly interfacing with an opposing gamer that ideally aims to play the same role as you do. Watch out!

All of us learn to be the leader of his/her own life through what we call “experiences”, but not everyone was born with the talent, the mindset (and probably a biological structure) of being a leader for others. And, in this digitalized, disruptive, highly technological, and connected world leaders are needed to secure its 4.0 development and exponential growth.

This article will be part of a new series on leadership 4.0 and digital transformation in which I aim to discuss and analyze the role of leaders in Industry 4.0 [1]. Starting from general theories and studies about basic leadership skills and styles [2], the discussion will move toward digital leaders’ qualities, particularly focusing on specific traits and skills needed that lead to digital transformation success; called the “six characteristics of a digital leader for digital transformation success” [1]. Moreover, the impact of leadership styles on digital transformation while influencing an organization’s development will also be investigated [3]. In conclusion to this article series, I will also propose and secretly reveal ”my 10 top tips” that I consider necessary and useful; magic seeds that lead to success while becoming winners in life.

Learn, navigate and transform with on demand experts. Get your ExOPass today.

Leadership: a born talent or a learned set of skills?

In this article, I will try to investigate whether leadership can be categorized as a learned set of skills, potentially achievable by anyone, or whether it is a gift, kindly donated at birth. Key elements of leadership theory will be discussed [4] viewing leaders as capable of influencing followers in achieving an organizational goal throughout changes. Moreover, leadership theory will follow [2], useful when understanding, predicting, and controlling a successful leadership.  

Leadership 4.0: the deal with digital transformation

In this article, leadership is located and discussed in the context of Industry 4.0 [5], in which leaders learn to develop a new role due to the interaction with digital advances such as information and communication technologies (ICT) used to transform, integrate, and digitize all processes across an organization. In this regard, novel leadership styles, adapted for Industry 4.0 requirements, generate an innovative framework: a “4.0 leadership matrix for digital leaders” [2] that evaluates behavioral leadership styles while investigating which set of skills leaders should develop to successfully implement and manage industry 4.0 and its transformative processes.

Moreover, the evolution of a novel culture into industries will also be discussed, in which digital leaders aim to be the drivers of a cross-hierarchical, team-oriented, and cooperative organization with a determined focus on generating disruptive innovation based on a design thinking mindset. Besides, different behavioral leadership theories and approaches will be considered concerning this innovative style matrix of digital leaders in Industry 4.0. Lastly, the main six qualities for becoming digital leaders will also be highlighted in the perspective of a developed model [1] that is used to stimulate and improve further research on the topic.

Leading to be a successful winner in life: my 10 top magic seeds

In conclusion to this series, the article that would probably intrigue you most is about my 10 top tips to succeed and win in life (at least they work with me!). I developed and evolved them from my “rollercoaster” life experience, leading me to become the person I am today. Although my journey is still young, I strongly believe that these top tips are not going to change, having them strongly reinforced and structured throughout time. With this article, I aim to give you a useful and different perspective to build effective mindset habits to achieve anything you want, while inspiring yourself and the community around you to become winners in life.

A clear reminder to my MTP: “empower inner potential leading to the growth of exponential winners."

Stay tuned, mates!

"Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals." (Unknown)

YouTube Channel Derek Sivers
Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash


  1. Promsri, C. (2019). Developing Model of Digital Leadership for a Successful Digital Transformations. International Journal of Business Management, Volume 02, Issue 08. DOI: HTTP://WWW.GPHJOURNAL.ORG/INDEX.PHP/BM Available at:
  2. Oberer, B. & Erkollar, A. (2018). Leadership 4.0: Digital Leaders in the Age of Industry 4.0. International Journal of Organizational Leadership, 7, 4, 404-412. DOI: 10.33844/ijol.2018.60332
  3. Mouhamadou Sow & Solomon Aborbie (2018). Impact of Leadership on Digital Transformation. Business and Economic Research, Macrothink Institute, vol. 8(3), pages 139-148, September.
  4. DeRue, D., & Ashford, S. (2010). Who will lead and who will follow? Social process of leadership identity construction in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 627–647.
  5. BMBF-Internetredaktion (2016). “Zukunftsprojekt Industrie 4.0 – BMBF”. Available at: [Accessed May 13, 2021].

One of the kindest things you can do is to share this information if you found it informative or it increased your understanding in some way. Please use the social sharing buttons or whatever method you like and share on your favorite social channel! Karma is cool and you'll look cool for sharing.


Beatrice Barbazzeni

Beatrice is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience aimed to achieve her MTP with discipline, perseverance and grit:“empower inner potential leading to the growth of exponential winners".