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What is modern leadership?


For the past 3 years I’ve been writing a weekly article on a wide array of topics that reflect my take on modern leadership.


I have not, however, put a definition on modern leadership.


So… is the day. Let’s try to nail this moving target.


I believe that modern leadership is the result of a conscious development of three key areas:



1.     Self

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”  ~Anais Nin


In my 20 years of leadership, I have found there to be no truer statement.


Everything that we do at work is directly shaped by our formative experiences from all aspects of our lives.


This is not a judgement. It is both beautiful and catastrophic.


Modern leaders contain multitudes. They spend their entire lives leveraging their minds and hearts to make the best decisions.


Every day we learn more about ourselves and in turn, become better leaders.


2.     Others


Modern leaders galvanize and lead healthy, collaborative teams that can grow through change and adversity.  This is done through transparency, trust and high caliber relationships. Nothing is transactional for the modern leader.


Energy is passed between all people and the vibration of this energy becomes the corporate culture.


Modern leaders cultivate energy like a garden. Relationships are tended to and nurtured with respect and care.


3.     Results


Modern leaders know that results are relative. They are relative to what you value. In modern businesses, results are a combination of profit, sustainability, wellbeing and impact.


For this to work for all stakeholders, the modern company vision must clear enough to identify exactly how results are measured. These are collective standards (values) that are closely held by all.



It’s an Ecosystem


Each of these 3 pillars are fundamental.  But more importantly, we must not sacrifice the health of any of the 3 pillars in pursuit of a single pillar.


This…is where conscious leadership becomes a scaffold for the entire system.


How do we lead consciously?


1.     Be curious

2.     Feel all the feelings

3.     We understand that our environment is a reflection of how we show up -- AKA –Accountability. Yep. The Big A word.


Want more about consciousness? My go-to guide is:


When we practice [conscious] modern leadership, we see things like:


·      Distributed leadership (see article below)

·      Transparency

·      Referral culture

·      Diverse stakeholder community

·      Diversity and inclusion

·      Innovation

·      Goodwill

·      Sustainability

·      Strong mental health

·      Results oriented policies

·      Organic collaboration



So what makes all this modern??


Modern implies new.  These are the leadership principles that have evolved with the modern era of knowledge work vs. the industrial era.


Between the industrial revolution and the 2000’s, leaders in the 80’s and 90’s focused heavily on processes. This is why large consultancies like McKinsey became so influential for businesses coming into the new era.


Processes management assumed that great systems would make up for human insufficiencies.


This was how we held onto our desire to control business outcomes. We basically engineered the hell out of work.


How many flow charts, checklists, reviews and IT systems can we implement to prevent and catch mistakes? That model has largely dissolved in the leadership practices of modern organizations.  


Now we hire smart people and get out of the way. Well….sort of. Not really.


We don’t so much as get out of the way as we cultivate the way forward.


In 2024, the modern way of leading is to slow down, deeply invest in people and create a healthy ecosystem for work. It’s a humanistic approach.



A cool example


Bayer is radically innovating leadership…..



In its effort to make the company more agile and improve operational performance, The Bayer Group has announced its new “Dynamic Shared Ownership” operating model. 

Bayer says this will do four things: 

  • reduce hierarchies

  • eliminate bureaucracy

  • streamline structures

  • accelerate decision-making processes

DSO culture requires more than structural changes; it demands a shift in mindset and behavior at all levels of the organization. Leaders must embrace a more inclusive and participative style, while team members need to adapt to new ways of working and collaborating with and between one another.


I think the evolution of leadership is fascinating. What is modern today will not be modern tomorrow. It’s always changing.


Think of all that has transpired in just 5 years to change what effective leadership looks like. Remote work, AI, gig work, etc.


Modern leadership is the willingness to evolve with humanity. To let go of attachments to what was and see with curiosity what might be possible.


I love to explore big ideas like this and ask the philosophical questions. What would have to be true for this to work? Why is this interesting to me? How might this improve the lives of leaders, employees, families and communities? If I feel an aversion to this, why? What are my fears and how might that be showing up in my own leadership today?


I believe that if we aren’t always in a state of wonder and curiosity, we are missing out on life’s magic.


May you live and leadWell,





If this is interesting to you, and you would like to evolve as a leader, perhaps we should work together.


How? Learn more at my website:


Leadership Development

Executive Coaching

Executive Peer Groups - Vistage

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