Along with the new working world, leadership has been in change for several years.  Hierarchies are crumbling, status symbols are losing value, an innovative culture is becoming more important, and employees have a continuously increasing demand for leadership.


Why is Leadership in Change?

Nowadays, employees no longer want to be motivated but inspired. They do not want to just work through their to-do list but also want to make a meaningful contribution in an appreciative environment. Their own concerns are supposed to dock with the company’s vision. Their own talents want to be realized and not to be restricted by a job description. People want to decide for themselves when and where to work.


Challenges for Leaders

There is a central theme to all of these points: leadership is in change. This is currently a big dilemma at companies. Leaders no longer understand their employees. HR departments are noticing that their leadership development efforts are no longer effective. Leaders ask me repeatedly: “Why do the employees suddenly want so much appreciation? That didn’t use to be the case.”


What is Changing with Leadership?

The role of leaders has become much more demanding in recent years. On a professional level, there are massive challenges: the loss of established business models, unpredictable situations, increasing customer demands, digitization and enormous complexity – and all this at unprecedented speed. In addition, completely new leadership skills are added: leaders are supposed to create team spirit and a sense of belonging, positively shape the work culture, individually promote the talents of employees, and be inspiring personalities and role models for others.


Old Leadership vs. New Leadership

Thus, the old and new leadership images differ in many ways as illustrated by this overview:

Old LeadershipNew Leadership
Role of the CEO
The CEO shapes the hierarchy and invests much of his time in goals, KPIs, and cost management. Leadership development and culture are seen as HR topics.The CEO invests much of his time in leadership, culture, and the work environment. With his executive team, he intensively discusses the questions: What leadership culture do we want to have? How can we create an inspiring environment through leadership in which employees can develop their potential? How can we make our company sustainable through leadership? How can we best exemplify leadership as role models?
Executive Team
As long as the business figures are right, the executive team sees no need to change the leadership culture. New employee demands on leadership are often neither tangible nor comprehensible.The members of the executive team have a positive concept of mankind, trust the employees, and involve the teams in decisions. Leadership is at eye level. The executive team does not care about the title “Executive Team” but sees itself as an ambassador for team spirit, mutual success, a positive working atmosphere, potential-related development, and appreciation.
Leadership Development
Leadership development is seen internally as a cost factor. The development programs are outdated in terms of content and formats. It is standard to use the scatter gun approach or to make a selection from the training catalog. However, this no longer measures up to the real development issues. The competencies taught no longer meet today’s challenges for leaders.Leadership development is considered a sensible investment. Leaders get customized and individual development measures, usually individual coaching and peer coaching. They are encouraged to develop a personal vision for themselves and the team. This creates team spirit, a sense of belonging, appreciation, and success.
Leadership Mindset
“Employees must perform.”“What can I do as manager so that my team experiences joy, a sense of belonging, inspiration, and success?”
Demand for Leadership
Professional management and the achievement of goals are perceived as sufficient. There is hardly any talk about leadership.The demand for leadership is high. This is already reflected from the careful selection of leaders to the high investment in their development. There are various internal formats for exchanging leadership topics.
Status Symbols
Status icons are important and visible signs of success.Status symbols do not say anything about success. Therefore, they are superfluous.
Employees follow the leader based on the function.Employees follow the leader because of his or her inspiring and appreciative personality.


This comparison of the old and new leadership images makes it clear: The change in leadership is gigantic. Very few companies are optimally prepared for this. It is now all the more important to deal intensively with leadership in change and to set the right course in a timely manner.

Who is Responsible for the Change in Leadership?

It is the CEO’s task to put leadership high on the agenda. This also means questioning his or her own leadership role in the first step and adjusting it if necessary. Once the foundations have been laid, it is much easier to anchor leadership in the company in a sustainable way. It pays off – because modern leadership increases the satisfaction and performance of managers and employees. Thus, everyone benefits from the change of the leadership culture in the new working world.

Yours, Heidi Hofer.


About Heidi Hofer

Heidi Hofer is a consultant for leadership teams who want to make their organization fit for the future. She supports, provides orientation, and develops strategies for a working environment characterized by human-centric leadership, individual development, and meaningful structures. This working environment then serves as the basis for healthy growth, full potential development, and sustainable success. She has profound industry expertise in the areas of tech, e-commerce, and digital.