Leadership In the Digital World

As the world continues to navigate the new normal through a pandemic, it is evident that new leadership styles are emerging. I have witnessed numerous changes in leadership styles within my organization. Previous to the pandemic, my organization’s leadership style was masterful, and the faculty had no voice to make changes. As the world filled with uncertainty about what the future would hold and the direction education was going, there was a paramount shift within our organization. Our leadership style went from masterful to inept. Everyone struggled to keep their head above the water and had little to no direction in moving forward. As a health care professional for over two decades, I have had the opportunity to lead and to be led by some phenomenal leaders. I was fortunate that I had a visionary leader who was a businesswoman before Dentist at the beginning of my career. Her leadership style was one that was empowering, dedicated to ensuring the practice met our collective goals. She gave us a sense of ownership, rewarded us with cash incentives, continuing education, gave us a voice, and presented new ideas to benefit the practice. Her leadership style provided me with autonomy and the motivation to thrive in the medical world’s business aspect. I have also had the opportunity to lead teams, what I learned early in my career I have shared with others. Many do not understand that Dentistry is a business. For the practice to thrive, the leader must have a vision, a common collective goal with their team, and give the team members autonomy.

Having the opportunity to complete our first group activity in LRNT 525 allowed me to work with diverse team members. All my team members came from different educational backgrounds than myself and were all of the opposite sex. After we initially ranked the attributes of a good leader, I realized how unconnected the health care field is from other educational backgrounds. My initial number one attribute of a leader was ambition. As a health care professional, it was instilled in me that ambition is what it takes to excel in my chosen field. Studies have indicated that medical students consider ambition as a valuable attribute in their chosen profession. Kiolbassa (2011) has recognized that” ‘Future perspective’ and ‘Personal ambition” have been rated as one of the most important reasons why students choose a specific specialty (p. 5). Having the opportunity to work with others outside the medical field has broadened my perspective on leadership and the attributes of a good leader. 

As I reflect on the past year and the changes that have transpired within my organization with leadership, it is apparent that the pandemic significantly shifted the dynamic and leadership style within our organization. The administration currently lacks clarity, transparency, and purpose, which translates to faculty as lack of trust that the leaders have with each other and faculty. Kouzes and Posner (2011) have recognized that “the majority of people look for and admire leaders who are honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent” (p. 4). The pandemic has significantly shifted the way our organization leads its faculty into the new normal of pandemic pedagogy. Currently, we are all navigating our new normal as best we can with little to no direction. It is evident that to lead in education with digital learning environments, our leaders must reflect upon how their leadership style impacts their faculty responses and how students learn. Research has shown that a diffuse leadership model can establish a sense of trust within an institution’s community, creates motivation, and instills confidence within the institution. As I continue to reflect on my leadership style, I have a greater understanding of what leadership qualities are the most important to myself and the type of qualities I am looking for in a leader to lead our program into the new realm of digital pedagogy during a pandemic.


Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organizational performance. Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112

Carpenter, J., Guichon, P., MacKay, M., Nix, C. H., & Rowe, C. (2021). Admired Leadership Attributes. Christopher’s Blog. https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0162/

Kiolbassa, K., Miksch, A., Hermann, K., Loh, A., Szecsenyi, J., Joos, S., & Goetz, K. (2011). Becoming a general practitioner – Which factors have most impact on the career choice of medical students? BMC Family Practice, 12(25), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2296-12-25

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2011). Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It,. In Quality Management Journal(Vol. 19, Issue 3, pp. 69–70). https://doi.org/10.1080/10686967.2012.11918075

Schwartzman, R. (2020). Performing pandemic pedagogy. Communication Education69(4), 502–517. https://doi.org/10.1080/03634523.2020.1804602




4 thoughts on “Leadership In the Digital World

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    Thanks for sharing your reflection and experiences with leadership. As you and many of your course mates have highlighted in their introductions and team discussions, when leaders do not communicate openly or provide direction it can be very demotivating. As the pandemic has required organizations to change so quickly and often with little or no time to plan effectively, I wonder what lessons we take away about resilience and adaptability. I know my own organization is thinking about ways to evolve to be more adaptable (i.e, by focusing on building more supports for technology integration in teaching/learning and to head towards more blended models) – what kinds of changes do you think would be helpful for your teams? What small changes in leadership could help?

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for your feedback, I have learned that within my organization change has been one of the most difficult adjustments for our team. It has been difficult to move forward with little to no direction. Over the last six months, our organization has concentrated on building a support system for faculty and created programs for instructors to help with transitioning to an online digital environment. I am looking forward to working with our curriculum department and sharing ideas on how we can create more adaptability within our faculty.

  2. It’s interesting how a different environment shapes a need for a different leader. I put ambition at the bottom of my list because in the field of social work, there is a need to think of others first and ambition interferes with that need. I’ve seen a fair share of awful leadership that stemmed from personal ambitions… but I work in a non-profit and it’s a very different world from a business or corporate environment

    1. It has been very interesting working with others in different environments and the different opinions on leaders. I truly believe it all depends on the environment.

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