It’s a new decade and times are changing on the leadership landscape

We’ve entered 2020 – a brand new year and a new decade and look at the leaders around us. Whatever your political views are, it’s pretty clear that there are questionable leadership styles in the UK and the US. Arguably these don’t tally up with the demands and expectations of leaders in the corporate world. So what does a leader look like in the 20s?

Be more Finland

Things are changing though and Finland is a prime example. It’s hugely encouraging to see that not only their PM, but all the leaders of political parties, are female. Isn’t it a fantastic landscape where this can happen? Sadly in contrast the UK and the US seem hugely far off that prospect.

The reasons for this iconic achievement in Finland have been attributed to their long-standing flexible working policy. This is part is around having an ingrained view on equal shared parental leave for men and women. Closely aligned to this is their overall attitude to equal opportunities in the workplace.

Women don’t have the roadblocks that perhaps they do in the UK and the US. This allows them to fairly grow through the leadership ranks which is wonderful stuff. In contrast take a look at the CEOs of the FTSE100 – there are more Chief Execs called Steve than there are women.

Gender targets are being aimed for as 50% of new FTSE100 chiefs should be women and 33% board positions should be women by 2020 but we’re still a way off.

Leadership styles – new demands

Coming back to the leadership styles that are evidenced in our day-to-day, there is definitely shift in terms of style and approach.

More and more, leaders are working on what type of leader they are and articulate this to the people they are managing. They know their strengths and what style they employ and relay this. By demonstrating this, the people working for them get to know and understand their style of working.

A successful leader achieves alignment between how they define themselves and how their team describes them.

There is also more of a demand for visibility, transparency and communication between leaders and their teams. The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality is frankly, old hat and damaging. There is a need for leaders to work as part of a team, rather than sailing solo up ahead.

Employees are – quite rightly – expecting guidance, mentoring and education from their leaders. They need guidance, coaching and mentoring to grow themselves. The good leaders among us, gain their teams’ trust and nurture those around them. As they say, you’re only as good as the team.

There’s always room to learn

I see a lot of leaders wanting to continually grow in in terms of their own personal development and management style. Continuous growth is a sign of a great leader. This is because we can all develop more – no one knows everything. Even someone in high authority can continue to develop their skillset and leadership style.

The current leadership race to follow closely is that of the new Labour leader. It’s hugely interesting to see how the candidates showcase their leadership styles and how the media and the public reacts to that.

I’m fascinated watching how this develops and how people’s opinions can seemingly change overnight. Do watch closely, what are people gravitating towards and what are they suspicious of and why? What traits are our current leaders showing? The constant slogan repetition, the key words and phrases, the language, the guffaws, the ‘buffoon’ character building…it’s all purposeful and for a reason. Keep watching closely and let me know your thoughts!


Emma Mills-Sheffield FRSA is a strategic business advisor and coach working with clients in London and Brighton. Having spent 15 years in industry she now helps businesses become more efficient and productive to get the best from their organisation. By reviewing business operations and investing in people, this encourages business growth with a more productive and happy workforce. In short, helping businesses get shi*t done.

In January 2020 she was named as one of 100 female entrepreneurs in the UK as part of the small business campaign f:Entrepreneur. The campaign including #ialso Top 100 is a collection of women who inspire their peers and communities through their businesses and wider activities.