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The Seismic Shift in Leadership

Leadership has always been at the core of a successful business. A business with a poor leader at the helm is going to stumble at the first hurdle, so the skills and style of you and the management team around you are imperative to your business going the distance.

However, given the sheer importance of good leadership, why is it that so many of us have different ideas of what good leadership is? Plus: what does good leadership look like right now?

Well, like anything, leadership needs to be fluid. As societal norms and the values of the people around you change and develop, the leaders in your business need to do the same.

Join us as we talk you through the evolution of leadership in recent history, as well as what ‘good’ looks like (for now!).

How Has Leadership Changed?

Leadership is most effective when it is tailored to suit the team around you. Today, as Gen-Z begins to enter the workforce, what constitutes as good leadership is almost unrecognisable when compared to 30 years ago.

To understand this rapid movement and evolution, we want to start by unpicking the catalyst behind specific big periods of change and review the impact they had on leadership today.

1990s: A Shift in Power

Before the ‘90s, leadership brought with it connotations of bureaucracy. If you didn’t like something you were shown the door, and leaders and management ruled with fear above everything else.

However, a shift in power at the back end of the 20th century saw all of this change. As companies across the world looking to boost their operational efficiency, we saw outsourcing reach its peak and hierarchies across every sector and type flattened significantly.

What did this mean for leaders? Well, they had to go from over-lord to team player fairly sharpish. Whilst the business was saving money, managers within the business were now facing larger teams to supervise whilst also having to get stuck into taking on some of their team’s tasks.

This period was all about leaders shifting away from a ‘me’ mindset and more towards an ‘us’. A manager’s success was no longer tied exclusively to whether the business hit quarterly targets, but also to how engaged their team felt and feelings of inclusion.

2010s: A Shift in Skills

The 2010s brought with it a huge change in the digital world.

Traditionally, managers would act as part of an informational loop – a voice piece for CEOs and Managing Directors to relay updates and strategies to the wider team. Movements in technology and changes in how we communicate meant that this go-between was no longer needed.

With business leaders now able to speak directly to every team member and vice versa, regardless of their role, a manager’s day to day changed again.

No longer were they responsible for sharing company direction and overhead strategies. Instead, they became a source of inspiration and guidance – a support network in essence. As ‘what we need to do’ started to come from senior management directly, team management became more about ‘how we can do it’.

Team managers were now performance coaches, not task overseers.

2020: A Shift in Structure

2020 brought with it one of the most noticeable shifts in work-life and management in recent years. The pandemic forced everyone to reassess the way they work and embrace flexibility.

Almost overnight, business leaders and managers were no longer sitting in an office surrounded by their team, but working in a more fluid and highly digital manner. This meant adapting how they assessed their team’s success and how they oversaw progress and work quality.

Not only has where we work become more adaptable, but the way we work has been quickly following suit. Gone are the days of booking annual one-to-ones and financial year-end targets. Instead, employees are thriving from ongoing feedback and guidance – as well as regular coaching and training.

Managing vs. Leading

As covered above, leadership has shifted dramatically from directing and overseeing to providing guidance and inspiration – and that for us helps to flesh out the definition between managing and leading.

‘Manager’ almost feels like a four-letter word in today’s world of work. The modern workforce seemingly doesn’t want to be managed in a traditional sense of the word. They do, however, want to be led.

This means you have to get in there and lead by example. If your team can see you, your passion and your processes, they’ll begin to follow suit.

For us here at Zest, the crux of leadership is all about how you empower and build up the people around you, enabling them to learn and grow as they work alongside you. The greater the people you surround your business with, the greater your business itself will become.

Why is Good Leadership Important?

Good leadership will essentially determine whether your business succeeds or fails. That’s why it’s so important strong leadership skills are instilled throughout your business – so not just you, but everyone you employee.

The list of reasons why good leadership is so important could be endless, but we’ll try to keep it fairly brief here.

A business operating under good leadership will boast a contented workforce, a motivated team, amazing levels of communication and strong, clear visions and values.

We’ve already pulled together our list of qualities that make up a good leader, so take a read and see which ones you can tick off your list.


Some of you might be reading this and thinking: great, my business and its leaders are already fully up to speed with everything I’ve just read and doing great.

Some of you might be looking at the screen in blank panic. Don’t worry if that’s you – or if you fall somewhere in between – because you’re already in the right place.

Here at Zest, we know what good leaders are made of – and how to make them. Our learning and development programmes are completely tailored, making them as unique as your business and your people.

Want some more info? Drop an email to:

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