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The Changing Role of Leaders


I think we can all agree that business is changing and, as a result, the role of leaders is changing. No longer are leaders just expected to direct the business, sometimes at all costs, to achieve results. Today, leaders need to be able to combine operational business expertise with high levels of emotional intelligence. Leaders need to be compassionate and empathetic if they are to create high performance teams that thrive in today’s VUCA world.

For some traditional leaders, the thought of bringing the human into the workplace is seen as too “woo,” too soft—and yet the research is compelling. The number one finding in the 2019 Human Capital study by Deloitte was that, globally, leaders felt we needed to bring the human back into the workplace. We are now no longer living in the industrial revolution where the focus of leadership was to maximize the output, often at the expense of the team and the individual. The dynamics of business mean that the old command-and-control structures where one person makes all the decisions are no longer sustainable. Rather, we need a shared approach to leadership, one where everyone works together for the business’s success—which means that leaders need to know how to lead teams effectively.

Unfortunately, many leaders still have not transitioned to the mindset that it is teamwork that makes a business thrive in today’s VUCA marketplace. According to the 2019 People Management Report conducted by The Predictive Index, nearly 30% of team members believe that their direct line managers and leaders lack the prerequisite skills to build effective teams.

Not placing value on strategic team building is a huge mistake that affects the bottom line. When teams are cobbled together, team members are more likely to struggle to communicate and collaborate. This will impact the effectiveness of the team. Contrast this with a highly engaged team that, according to findings by Gallup, can deliver a 21% increase in profitability and a 17% increase in productivity.

So, how can leaders improve teamwork and help create highly engaged and motivated teams?

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