The Evolution Of Leadership

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.

Manager & Leader, but Let’s Not Forget Human
A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.

- Douglas MacArthur

Within the timespan of a few generations, so much about leadership has changed. Following several transformative milestones, leadership is once again poised for an impactful shift.

Brute Strength

Not so long ago, between the 18th and the end of the 19th century, most workers were located on farms. In fact records dating back to 1800 show that in America, 83% of the labour force were involved in agriculture. Leadership at that time often meant participating in physical labour and getting your hands dirty while directing a group of farmhands or cowhands on how to best complete farm chores and cattle drives.

Organized Manufacturing

By 1900, a wave of workers were already relocating to cities. Leaving only 42% of workers employed in agriculture. Even at that early date, manufacturing had absorbed 20% of all labour. Appointed by a factory Manager, the “Foreman” retained responsibility for supervising and organizing workers, but production at scale required stricter monitoring of productivity and control of quality. Leaders, for the most part, were no longer required to do physical labour, but in exchange had to oversee and take responsibility for the manual work done by others.

Digitized Efficiency

Jump ahead to the year 2000. Long gone are the days of noisy factories. Most leaders found themselves located in office settings perched high above street level in high-rise towers. Leadership required holding control of authority, while ensuring the smooth execution of administrative processes. They were applauded for keeping things aligned, minimizing risk, problem-solving to increase productivity, and ensuring growing profitability.

Innovation and Disruption

Although we’ve relied on muscles, machines, and brains to keep the economy healthy and in a growth mode for several centuries, we’re starting to see cracks developing in our systems. Some experts are calling for a reinvention of capitalism, while others decry success being predicated on endless consumption. Ecosystems of all kinds are under duress, opening the door to innovators and disrupters with new approaches and never-before-seen solutions. Automation is taking hold and robots are slowly encroaching on jobs requiring manual labour. What will come next?

Human Touch Leadership

Leaders of the future will continue to develop strategies for achieving objectives and monitoring performance outputs, but they will be required to also activate and nurture “human touch” traits, in order to compete and differentiate themselves from technological solutions.

We need a new strain of leaders, ones with the ability to connect authentically with people in order to inspire collaboration and creativity, as prerequisites for success.

Are you leading with…


Do you understand how people around you are feeling about the work that they do, the projects to which they are assigned, and the decisions they are making?


Mistakes, miscommunications and failures are inevitable. Are you quick to reprimand, correct or assume the worse?


Have you earned the respect of your team by appreciating and showing them respect?


Do you react responsibly and constructively to anticipated, as well as unanticipated changes?


Do you ensure that you tailor your tone and responses to fit with the person you are dealing with or relating to?


Do you trust your team to manage and complete the work that they are assigned without excessive monitoring or questioning, even when working remotely?

At no time in history have organizations demanded so much from their leaders. Expectations are that leaders be equipped with relevant experience, finely-honed technical and transferable skills, effective communication abilities, thinking and problem-solving acuity, as well as proven planning, organizing and management competence.

Ultimately, what differentiates you from even the most advanced technology, is your humanity. Use it to cement your reputation as a leader with heart.

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