New leadership: How to lead successfully in a modern working world

The world of work has been changing rapidly since the pandemic. In order for managers to continue to lead their teams successfully, they need to adapt their leadership style. “Being a boss” is taking on a whole new meaning. But what exactly does that mean? And what will the leadership of the future look like? We explain everything you need to know about new leadership.

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New Work and New Leadership: What does Leadership 4.0 mean?

New Work and New Leadership – two terms that go hand in hand. New Work primarily stands for the structural changes in the world of work.

Three factors in particular have strongly influenced this change in recent decades:

  • Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Globalization

  • Demographic change (associated with this: new values and demands on the labor market)

All these changes have ensured that traditional management models are no longer successful. The reason for this is that the majority of previous management approaches have their origins in industrialization around 1800.

At that time, the world of work was divided into two groups:

  1. Those who issue instructions. (managers)

  2. Those who take instructions. (workers)

Our working world has changed a lot since then – but this management style has remained at the heart of many companies. Today, however, this approach no longer works. The solution: New Leadership. It aims to provide managers with the tools and skills to master the challenges of New Work.

New Leadership is a modern leadership concept designed to help managers master the challenges of our rapidly changing world of work (=New Work). New Work and New Leadership therefore go hand in hand.

Leadership in transition: how our working world has changed

Did you know that we live in a VUCA world? The term VUCA originally comes from the US military and is an acronym.

Our world is defined by:

  • Volatility

  • Uncertainty

  • Complexity

  • Ambiguity

This means that our world is not only in a state of constant change – we as humans also need to adapt to these changes as quickly as possible. But for this to be possible at all, we need to remain flexible. Rigid constructs such as outdated management styles have therefore had their day.

What’s more, employees today have significantly higher expectations of their workplace.

The Indeed Meaning of Work Report has shown which areas are particularly important to employees today:

  • Team and colleagues

  • Salary, bonuses and bonus payments

  • Flexible working hours

  • Good accessibility (public transport, bicycle or on foot)

  • Professional development

It is therefore up to companies to break down rigid constructs and focus on modern management. This is the only way they can remain competitive in the long term.

The principles of New Leadership

New Leadership combines various principles of different leadership styles – and therefore has no fixed definition. Instead, New Leadership aims to combine the best of modern leadership approaches.

These include, for example

  • Agile leadership

  • Positive leadership

  • Transformational leadership

  • Servant leadership

The most important goal of New Leadership is to focus on the needs and development of the team members.

What does this mean in practice?

  • Promoting employees

  • Enabling growth and development

  • Cooperation instead of delegation

  • Distributed responsibilities

  • Transparency

  • Digitalization

  • Remote work

  • Flexible working hours

  • Work-life balance

Together with Karlshochschule International University, we at triangility have therefore analyzed various leadership models and worked out their basic principles. The result: the 17 leadership principles.

In the new world of work, decisions are no longer made from the top down. Instead, the modern manager makes decisions depending on the situation.

Various forms of decision-making are available to them:

  1. Tell: The decision is determined and communicated by the manager.

  2. Sell : The decision is explained in detail.

  3. Consult: The manager asks for opinions before making a decision.

  4. Agree: The decision is made jointly by the group.

  5. Advise: The manager gives input, but the team member decides.

  6. Inquire: The team member makes the decision and the manager asks questions afterwards.

  7. Delegate: The team member decides, the manager is no longer involved.

Traditional leadership versus new leadership 

Traditional leadership is primarily characterized by authority. Traditional management is characterized by rigid hierarchies and control. 

New Leadership is supposed to be different: The focus here is on flat hierarchies and the personal responsibility of employees. 

In direct comparison, this means

  1. Empathy instead of authority

  2. Cooperation instead of control

  3. Empowerment instead of determination

  4. Team-oriented instead of ego-oriented

  5. Personal responsibility instead of hierarchy

  6. Flexibility instead of rigid structures

  7. Eye level instead of top-down

New leaders must have these skills 

New leaders need various skills if they want to make a positive contribution to their corporate culture – and lead successfully in the long term. 

Ability to reflect: Nobody is perfect – not even a manager. It is therefore essential for new leaders to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and to continuously develop themselves. 

Willingness to make decisions: Even unpleasant or difficult decisions have to be made. Even managers don’t always know exactly which decision is the right one – but they do obtain comprehensive information from their team members beforehand. 

Empathy: Modern managers must be able to put themselves in the shoes of their team members. This is the only way to resolve conflicts and challenges sustainably. A “me first” attitude is out of place. 

Willingness to learn: Our complex world (VUCA!) does not allow for stagnation. New leaders must therefore be ready for change – and be willing to learn continuously.

Advice: Managers today are no longer the rigid authority of their employees – but rather advisors. They should accompany, empower and individually support their team members. 

Inspirational ability: New leaders have a role model function. They must be able to inspire and motivate other people – and at the same time exemplify the set goals themselves.

The advantages of New Leadership

  • Strong employee loyalty: Employees feel heard and involved. This strengthens employee loyalty and reduces staff turnover. A valuable asset, especially in times of skills shortages.

  • Good corporate climate : Flat hierarchies, co-determination and participation – this ensures a good corporate climate. The result: a real sense of togetherness and employees who enjoy working in your team.

  • Relieved managers: Even if the transition to New Leadership can be stressful at first – once your team members are acting, delegating and making decisions independently, this also relieves you as a manager.

  • More employee engagement: Employees who are seen and heard are also significantly more involved in work processes. This increases employee commitment – and opens up space for completely new ideas and perspectives.

  • Discover potential: Only those who also give their team members the space and opportunities to develop can also discover previously unseen potential. This not only ensures greater motivation, but also a higher level of performance.

  • Use competencies: Decisions are made as a team – not by the manager alone. This allows many different perspectives to flow into the decision-making process and ensures that you actually make the best possible decision.

  • More flexibility: In these fast-moving times, it is all the more important for companies to be able to adapt to changing market conditions and technologies as quickly as possible. New Leadership ensures that your team remains flexible.

  • Room for innovation: Satisfaction in the workplace and teamwork not only promote the creativity of your team colleagues, but also the emergence of innovation. This enables your company to adapt even better to changing conditions.

The challenges of New Leadership in the company 

However, the New Leadership approach also brings with it a few challenges – change management initially frightens many managers.

  • Managers are challenged: Especially at the beginning, the changeover requires a lot of time and attention. What’s more: Simply making announcements is no longer enough. Managers have to motivate, inspire, listen and mediate. A responsible and demanding task.

  • Keeping an overview: Between projects, responsibilities and long to-do lists, it’s easy to lose track of things. Especially when all employees act independently, this can quickly become confusing for the manager. The solution: project management tools and regular meetings.

  • Rethinking leadership: Some managers may perceive the path to new leadership as a loss of position. After all, there is no clear demarcation “downwards”. What is needed now is to rethink the role of the manager.

  • Time required: The transition to new leadership is time-consuming and sometimes complicated. Uncertainties, ambiguities and conflicts arise along the way. This should be taken into account at the start of the process in order to avoid disappointment.

Introducing New Work Leadership: We can help you

We help you on your way to Leadership 4.0. With our community of leadership, people development and learning design experts, we teach managers the necessary principles, leadership skills and practices of New Leadership and New Work.

Discover our workshops, training courses and programs now – and start your development!

Book your meeting! 

New Leadership Training

Core principles, competences and practices for modern leadership.

Dauer: 12 days
Classroom / Online

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