Future of Work Capabilities

New Leadership in the Working World

  • Heidi Hofer
  • August 6, 2020

Within the world of work the demand for good leadership has changed fundamentally over the last few years. Hierarchies are crumbling, the value of status symbols is decreasing, a culture of innovation is becoming more important and employees are increasingly demanding good leadership.

These days, employees no longer seek to be motivated, they want to be inspired. They not only want to work through their to-do lists, but rather to make a meaningful contribution in an environment where they feel appreciated. Their personal priorities should dock with the company’s vision. There is a desire to express one’s individual talents and not to be constrained by the job description. Everyone wants to decide for themselves when and where to work.

For managers, this change represents a massive challenge. This is currently a big dilemma in companies. Managers no longer understand their employees. HR departments notice that their management development methods are no longer effective. Top
managers are amazed and keep asking me, “Why do employees suddenly want so much appreciation?”

Evidently, in recent years the leadership role has become more demanding. On a technical level, there are massive challenges: the eradication of business models, unpredictable situations, increasing client demands, digitalization and enormous complexity – and this, all at an unprecedented speed. In addition, this has been accompanied by completely new leadership skills. Leaders must be able to facilitate a team spirit and a sense of belonging, have a positive impact on the company culture, promote the individual talents of employees and be inspirational, setting an example for others. Old and new leadership styles differ in many ways.

These days, employees no longer seek to be motivated, they want to be inspired. Heidi Hofer, HR expert and independent consultant from our network

Leadership Concept: Old vs. New 

The Executive Team

As long as the business figures add up, the executive team see no need to make any changes to the company culture. Any new demands made on the leadership by employees are often neither tangible nor comprehensible.
Members of the executive team have a positive regard for others, place trust in employees and include teams in decision making. Leadership takes place on an even footing. The executive team attach no importance to the title executive team. They see  themselves as ambassadors for team spirit, collective success, a positive working environment, the development of individual potential and mutual respect.

Role of the CEO

The CEO impacts the hierarchy and dedicates most of his or her time to goals, KPIs and cost management. Leadership and company culture are regarded as HR topics.
The CEO dedicates most of his or her time to issues of leadership, company culture, and the working environment. He or she discusses various questions in depth with the executive team: What sort of leadership culture do we want? How can we as leaders create an inspiring environment, where employees will realize their potential? How can our leadership make our company more
sustainable? How can we best serve as role models in our leadership?

The Leadership Mindset

“What we expect from employees is performance.”
“What can I do as a leader to ensure that my team is happy, has a sense of belonging, feels inspired and enjoys success?”

Status Symbols

Status symbols are important visible signs of success.
Status symbols are no indicator of success. Therefore, they are superfluous.


Employees follow their leaders based on their role.
Employees follow their leaders based on their inspirational persona and the appreciation that they show.

Leadership Development

Leadership development is dealt with internally as a cost factor. In terms of form and content, the professional development programs are outdated. A haphazard approach or choosing from the training catalogue is the norm. This, however, no longer  corresponds to real development needs. The competences conveyed no longer meet the challenges facing today’s leaders.
Leadership development is seen as a worthwhile investment. Managers receive tailored and personalized development  interventions, usually in the form of one-to-one mentoring and peer-coaching. This is how they are supported in the development of a personal vision for themselves and the team. As a result, team spirit, a sense of belonging, self-esteem and success are produced.

Leadership Demands

Leadership in a technical sense and goal achievement are considered sufficient. Leadership is rarely mentioned.
Heavy demands are placed on the leadership. This is demonstrated from the careful selection of leaders to the high investment in their development. Different styles exist for communicating leadership issues internally.