We live and work in an ever-changing environment and 2020 was a harsh reminder of this reality. We are constantly coming up against new challenges and demands and this especially applies to those of us in leadership roles. It has never been truer that leaders are having to adapt and adjust their leadership styles to reflect the constantly shifting world around them. 

Modern leadership requires a willingness to continually adapt and change your approach.  The world is moving at a faster pace than it ever has before. Technological advances, shifting markets and fast paced social and economic changes mean it is absolutely necessary for modern leaders to keep their finger on the pulse and be ready to pivot whenever necessary. 

But how can we do this as leaders? How can we always be ready to adapt and what does good modern leadership look like? 

Evolution over change 

It is worth mentioning immediately that while the role of a leader is always evolving, the skills and basic principles will always remain the same. Yes, a modern leader has modern life to contend with, but the basic principles of leadership are timeless and can always be used as a solid foundation upon which to build. 


Communication is an essential part of leadership and modern leaders must be willing to communicate with transparency in order to earn and maintain the respect and trust of their team. People want to understand why a decision has been made and providing the primary data that has influenced your decision can help people to contextualise and understand the reasoning behind it. 

When things are constantly shifting and changing it is vital that you are able to communicate with clarity and transparency in order to get your team on board with the necessary changes as quickly as possible. This is especially the case when we are working remotely, as many of us are at this time. 

No matter your chosen leadership style, transparency is an essential part of the process and a modernleader is aware of this. 

Lead by example 

Modern leaders understand that asking a team to do as they do is far more effective than asking them to do as they say. Lead by example. It’s a classic principle that remains as relevant as ever. 

It is also vital to remember that as a leader you are likely also a follower. Demonstrate what it means to be a good follower. Ask the right questions and show a positive and proactive attitude towards mutual goals. This will be especially important as we navigate the uncertainty of this coming year. 

Risk and innovation 

The balance of risk and innovation is delicate, especially coming out of a year as turbulent as the one we’ve just seen. It is absolutely vital that as a leader you communicate the levels of risk and innovation that are acceptable and expected within the business, and if they are different in certain areas. 

Too much of either can be incredibly damaging to any business. Too much restriction and the business cannot soar, too much freedom and the business may run out of control and sink. As a leader you are responsible for making sure this delicate balance is understood across the business and on every level. 

Motivating your team 

We’re all motivated by different things: money, autonomy, flexibility etc and these motivations are constantly changing throughout our lives are our circumstances and situations change. 

Modern leaders must be in tune with what motivates their team both as a single entity and as individuals. Don’t waste your time offering financial gain to someone in need of more autonomy or flexibility for example, and vice versa. 

Social capital 

2020 saw a complete shift in how we communicate and socialise as beings. We were forced to adapt to digital means of interaction and business leaders must figure out how to maintain social connections across the business despite obstacles such as the pandemic. 


The modern leader is not perfect and is very aware of that. They also do not try to be, for they understand that perfection has never existed and never will. Throughout history there have been countless great and inspirational leaders, many of whom have become role models and phenomenal examples to me. And yet they too were flawed. 

Trying to be a perfect leader will ultimately restrict you from being the leader you need to be. Modernleadership requires the willingness to fail, to make mistakes and to pick oneself back up again. Modernleadership is about understanding that both you and your team will sometimes have to learn lessons the hard way, but ensuring that you are equipped with the skills, the tenacity and the resilience to face those challenges and emerge the other side stronger, wiser and ready to take the next step.