What needs to shift in the future of leadership?

There are more and more who are talking about what constitutes leadership, let alone strong (not perfect) leadership. Now more than ever, people are needing courageous, inspired people leaders with learning mindsets. Give us a pandemic, and our world has put a magnifying glass on a call for more conscious, creative, people-first leadership.

I hold deep appreciation of the definition of a leader by John Eades, CEO of LearnLoft: “Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time.”

Eades’ definition creates pause to reflect on the leaders I’ve had in a former corporate life, and the leader I was too. I have had a few great leaders, and I think I wasn’t too shabby either. Leadership was the most courageous, vulnerable work prior to leading my coaching practice. And, (drum roll) I’ve seen my leaders and my own leadership be flawed. The big question to get unstuck is – do we want to learn for our own sense of growth and for the greater good we serve?

Growing in Leadership

From my observations, lived experiences and now coaching leaders at various levels, there are themes that lead to heightened capacity to model Eades’ definition of a leader. It looks like a long list and the work is ongoing. I sometimes say “leadership is a lifestyle”, not a job.

  1. Leading with a strong people-focus (even if it doesn’t come naturally, we can learn it, developing EQ with intention can help)
  2. Growing a learning mindset (vs fixed, for example, “it’s always been done this way”)
  3. Leaning into courage and vulnerability (as Dr. Brené Brown says, you can’t have one without the other)
  4. Openness to receiving and giving feedback without judgment or shaming
  5. A lifestyle of learning (informally through content, formally through coursework and being coached)
  6. Developing high level coaching skills to empower, inspire, develop others vs reliance on directive approaches
  7. Inviting, contributing and celebrating new ideas, creativity and experimentation
  8. Enabling psychological safety, no matter what is going on, growing resilience and stress management techniques (especially important for change and uncertainty)
  9. Embracing authenticity and diversity – culturally, personality styles, and the very (sometimes raw) humanness we bring to work
  10. Offering transparency, clear roles, new growth opportunity for others to “stretch”
  11. Being future-focused, clear on vision, purpose, shared values, inviting the voices of those you serve (including your team) into the creation of them
  12. Nurturing trust


Chances are, you recognize yourself in a few of these already. The idea is you can continue to grow what you’re good at, and develop in other areas with intention. You might even find this growth work extends well into other facets of life too.

“Being a leader is hard work. It requires a level of self-discipline and commitment to others that most people aren’t willing to have,” Eades states in an article titled “Want to be seen as a true leader? Acquire these 5 habits” on Inc.com. He proposes a few additional ideas to advance in leadership (not in title or rank – in effectiveness, in service of others):

  1. Consider the needs of others more, and proactively
  2. Be clear on what success and accountabilities looks like
  3. Learn everyday
  4. Be humble and vulnerable – it’s okay not to have answers, it’s incredibly empowering to ask for help
  5. Devise a guiding leadership mantra

You might recognize some of the ideas in this post because you’re great at them, you’re working on them, or you know you need to.

The world is calling on every one of us to grow our leadership edges to inspire and empower, in service of others – and when we do, it’s some of the most fulfilling work of a lifetime. When we grow, others do too, and the work is more impactful.

So Many Resources!

There is a breadth of resources to hone a focus on strengths and areas to develop as we continue to grow in our leadership. Here are a few ideas, and I’ll continue to share more on this blog and on regular LinkedIn posts as well.


Key Coaching Questions

Back to the question in the title: what are you noticing needs to shift in the future of leadership? And what are you willing to be and do to contribute to that shift? If change is needed into the future, as a leader, how will you show up in it? When you look back at your legacy, in what ways will your leadership have contributed to that impact?

My mother used to say, “if you can’t change the world around you, you can start with yourself”.

May you live and lead with fervor!