What Does Leadership Mean In Today’s World?

As the definition goes, leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organisation. In today’s world, leadership has grown to mean a lot more than the dictionary’s definition of the word.

With globalisation and technological advancements pushing the world forward, leadership has also grown to take on different meanings and forms. Leaders today not only have to be receptive towards their organisation and employees but they are now also subject to public scrutiny with the rise of social media.

Since consumers, media and other stakeholders have gained incredible power with these advancements, leaders need to be a lot more quicker with their decision making processes and actions than ever before. With that being said, leadership is also a combination of many ideas and ways of thinking. So what does leadership mean in today’s world? Let’s take a look at some of these concepts to get a clearer picture on what leadership means today.

Leadership is not synonymous with designation titles.

This belief stands to be one of the biggest common misconceptions about the quality of leadership amongst individuals today. While C-level titles are expected to come with a certain level of leadership and authority, it is important for even rank and file employees to possess leadership qualities within them.

For an organisation to achieve success, every employee has an important part to play regardless of their designation title.

Granted that the higher levels may have to make decisions that cause bigger impact within the organisation, but every employee has a responsibility to ensure that these decisions are made with proper work, research and consideration done.

And it is their own leadership qualities that each individual and each department delivers on their task. Be it through responsible delegation when leading a project, or mentoring a new employee on their tasks.

No role or title is too small in an organisation to encompass leadership qualities, and leadership should not just be synonymous with designation titles.

Leadership requires some form of social influence.

As American politician George Ambler said, “The hallmark of effective leadership is the influence you have on the lives of others.” Leaders are people who guide others.

Circling back to the basic definition of leaders, they are people who lead a group of people. If these individuals claim to be leaders but do not have any followers, social influence naturally becomes absent. And without social influence, leadership cannot happen.

It is essential to note that while social influence may stem from authority or power positions, influence that develops through the process of understanding between individuals will earn better respect and longer-lasting results.

An article by the Managing Partner & Founder of LeadersEdge Inc, Joanne Trotta, shares that leaders who lead with empathy improve productivity, reputations and overall growth at a workplace.

Effective social influence can take better effect when leaders are able to incorporate their learned ideas of empathy into their workplaces. When employees are better understood and appreciated as a result of empathetic leaders, the true impacts of social influence can be picked up from the organisation’s positive working environment.

Leadership is more than just about effective management skills.

A detailed study was conducted on the differences between leadership and management. The research found that while “leadership involves power by influence, management involves power by position”. This finding is in sync with the earlier mentioned points in this article as well.

Additionally, the study also found that most leaders decide where the organisation is headed towards while the managers are concerned with how to get the company closer to these goals.

In essence, leadership skills entail a lot more than just effective management skills. While both qualities have many overlapping grounds, as Keynote Speaker Steven R Covey summarised it: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; Leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

So what does leadership mean in today’s world?

In conclusion, leadership cannot seemed to be limited to just one fixed definition. Different individuals from various organisations around the world understand and apply their leadership qualities in a myriad of ways.

However, most of them may agree that leadership is not synonymous with designation titles, that it requires some form of social influence and it’s more than just effective management skills. The best form of the leadership talent requires a mixed understanding of its types present in today’s world so that better organisations and work style can grow out of it.


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in empowering leaders by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you want to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, feel free to reach out to us here.

Reshma is StrengthsAsia’s content writer and research contributor. She enjoys spending her time writing anything from poems to screenplays, and everything in between. She also finds joy in reading novels, baking and catching movies with her family. Participating in creative activities helps her find inspiration and new ideas for her work.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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