Forces that are influencing leadership changes and why leaders must evolve

Image result for leadership

Digital leadership is about empowering others to lead and creating self-organized teams that optimize their day-to-day operations. Leadership is no longer hierarchical – it needs participation, involvement and contribution from everyone. Kevin Kruse (2015) says,  leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” Both of these definitions highlight the importance of social influence.

But why is digital leadership important? Today, leaders need to deal with unprecedented changes and an unpredictable and challenging future due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution is driven by the advent of new technologies. In such a world, leadership will play a bigger role than ever. Leaders will have to create and show the way forward amid transitions, disruptions, chaos and ambiguity.

The average age of an S&P company was 33 years in 1964. This was reduced to 24 years by 2016 and is expected to shrink to 12 years by 2027. There are forces of creative destruction at play, and leaders need to be on the top of their game to survive and thrive

The digital world is not about technology, but people. As our day-to-day lives are increasingly immersed in technology, it is easy to lose perspective on things that matter. Leadership needs to communicate with purpose and provide direction. Leaders need to create a compelling vision and communicate with clarity so that everyone understands what the team is trying to achieve and why.

Leadership skills and management practices are evolving in today’s workplace. While, there are more than half a dozen types of leadership styles  out there. The style of leadership which resonates with me is an adaptive leadership. In which, the approach takes a holistic view of leadership by focusing on both leader-follower relationships and any potential external issues. According to Yukl and Mahsud (2010) “flexible and adaptive leadership involves changing behavior in appropriate ways as the situation changes” (p.1). Adaptive leaders look not only at the leader-follower relationship, but also consider external factors in the environment within which leaders and followers operate (Glover, Rainwater, Jones, & Friedman, 2002).The characteristics of adaptive leadership entails empathy, organizational justice, transparency and creativity, also, learning and growing continually.

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to leadership. The leadership process itself has many competing values and, therefore, is more complex and difficult than traditionally thought (Yukl & Mahsud, 2010). Institutions, whether corporate, academic, not-for-profit etc. are all complex organizations that have many, even competing, internal and external factors that need to be considered when leading and making decisions. Adaptive leadership can be implemented in complex situations where the leader-follower relationship is attended to, but so are all environmental, cultural, and societal factors that will affect leaders and followers (Glover, Rainwater, Jones, & Friedman, 2002).

Throughout my career, I have discovered that leadership is more than just a science, more than just an art, and more than just a craft. Leadership is founded on human chemistry—the ability of a leader to look inward and become fully self-aware, and the ability of a leader to look outward and build an understanding of others. Specifically, leaders need to meet the needs of people. They need to focus not on themselves, but on others. Leaders need to communicate openly, listen more, be honest with the facts, have a dynamic vision, and be accountable for their actions. Leaders also need to be compassionate and empathetic, and able to use both emotional and social intelligence to build relationships. Every leader has their own personal “chemistry” associated with their behaviors, thinking dynamics, managerial actions, performance approaches, and ways of connecting with people.

Discovery of self and self-knowledge are essential to building leader credibility. People do not trust someone who is not clear about personal beliefs and who continues to shift from position to position based upon the latest opinion poll Also,  you must watch out for those who are so persuaded that their values are the right values that they become moralistic, pious, judgmental, arrogant, or self-righteous. . (Kouzes & Posner, 201, p. 200).


Anthony, D. Scott, Viguerie, P. Schwartz, I. E, & Landeghem, V. J. (Jan 4, 2018). ‘S&P 500 lifespans continue to shrink, requiring new strategies for navigating creative destruction’. Retrieved

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3). DOI: from

Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2011).’The characteristics of admired leaders. In Credibility : How leaders gain and lose it, why people demand it. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from Skill soft e-book database.

Kruse, K. (April, 2, 2019). Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business.

Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Center for Leadership in Education. Retrieved from