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What makes a leader the modern leader?

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Leadership and management of organizations have been under the changing during last decay. Modern leadership has taken the place of authoritarian management style, and it seems that more and more organizations want to change their leadership style and management to modern leadership style. What kind of aspects modern leadership has and how we can take that into practice?

What management, leadership or modern leadership means?

Management can be described and divided into two parts: Management of matters and management of people. However, bipartition of these two things is useless, because they are combined. The important thing is to understand how these two things interact with each other’s and how to manage them. (Kamensky, 2008, 50.) Management can be considered as dealing with things and matters while leadership is dealing with people and relationships, but we can’t separate these two from each other. Leading an organization always causes both. As Kamensky (2008) says, a leader needs to understand the balance to combine skills to deal with people and handle facts.

Kamensky (2008) highlights three parts of management, which are productivity, organizational skills and professional skills. These three parts represent how wide concept management and leadership is. According to Kamensky (2008), a successful business is profitable, sustainable and developing, and results are made by organization where people are working efficiently together (Kamensky, 2008, 51). Modern leadership pays regard to both sides of the business: profit and the people. Dealing with these two different matters requires skill to understand and think the comprehensive way how different things work together. According to Kamensky (2008), management and leadership are demanding professionality to skill to work and interact with all those three parts of business knowledge.

Fürstberger’s article (2020) about five characteristics in modern leadership supports Kamesky’s point of view about leadership. According to Fürstberge (2020), modern leadership is to be aimed at improvement, deals responsibly with recourses, restrains itself, is cooperative as possible and serves a system. (Fürstberger, 2020). Those five characteristics shows also both fact-oriented and connection-oriented aspects.

Because leadership is so wide concept of professional and it requires every field of business it is easy to understand why leadership and management are complicated to do it in the way to make everyone happy. That is probably why it is easier to focus on some part of those or at least to divide leadership and management into fact-oriented parts and people-oriented parts. Also, is modern leadership too difficult to reach because it covers everything, and it is so wide concept?

What makes a difference between a good and a great leader?

According to Kamensky (2008), research of Jim Collins shows that there are some qualities, which make difference between good and great leaders. Qualities of a great leader are modesty as a person and strong will as a professional, ambition which is mostly targeted to the business, preparation of the success to the next leader, self-effacement and underrating of own achievements, perseverance and need to accomplish something permanent, diligence and tendency to look to the future after achievement and look to itself after the failure. (Kamensky, 2008, 52).

This is the description of a great leader, but it can be also thought of as a characteristic of a modern leader because it also highlights both sides of management and leading. The modern leader is oriented to the business and there needs to be willingness about improvement all the time. Otherwise, the business won’t be successful. The interesting thing to highlight from the research of Jim Collins is that great and modern leader is modes and humble in that way that there is a will to build something lasting. That shows how important is to understand as a leader that there might not be anything visible achievements to success with leading. As Kamensky (2008) wrote, a great leader is focused to make the journey for the next leader more successful, not just their own journey in a leader position. These are probably some of the complicated aspects of leading. A human being is a naturally selfish creature and wants to see own achievements. Ability to understand and accept the fact that there is not going to be that visible, fact-based achievements can be very challenging to leaders who would want to drive for the goals and see them.

Maybe that is why many companies have a fact-oriented management style because fact- and task-oriented achievements are more visible. People are looking for satisfaction and pleasure, which make it natural to look for ways to see achievements of own work. When the highest success does not happen during own leading period, would it make that leading period less valuable? Of course not, but it might feel like that to the leader. How to change the mindset and focus on further and think achievements in the future from a long-term aspect? Not just say that and think that, but also accept that truly and honestly.

Nowadays, creating permanent business is linked to sustainability, which is a highly spoken matter in business and in the world in general. It is relevant to say, that one character of a modern leader is to take sustainable aspect to the business, whatever the business is and how the sustainability needs to be taken into the action in the business.

Leading emotions: The key for modern leadership?

According to author and emotion educator Camilla Tominen (2020), research and articles about leadership and management highlight the importance of feelings and openness of the organization. It isn’t enough that there is a knowledge and understanding about facts of customer relations and team management but create connection and trust which increase creativity and innovations. (Tuominen, 2020.) Authoritarian fact-oriented working culture and management style seems to be passed or at least many companies have a will to change their management method to leading and coaching style, where there is more room for ideas and innovations.

Tuominen (2020) also emphasizes that ability react to stimulations, feel emotions, be creative and innovate new things are skills that make a human being important and valuable in the business. Data-oriented work is already transferred to machines and robots because they do it more efficiently. The way a human being can be efficient and productive at work and increase profit is to use those cognitive skills machines do not have.

Tuominen’s point of view highlights that the true need in the business is to lead people to feel, think freely and be as innovative as possible. A modern leader needs to understand how to lead emotions, creativity and how to motivate people to have that kind of mindset that they can bring new ideas to make their work more profitable. That also highlights that leader needs to be able to think that achievements and profit might not be visible in the data in the first place but after all, it will be visible also there.

The important thing to understand in leading emotions and feelings is that there can be also aims and goals. That way leading is not just creating a good atmosphere but targeting somewhere. When a leader knows how to deal with others’ emotional reactions and can read them without asking, there is an opportunity to affect the atmosphere without feeling to push some forced mood to the work community. Motivation, innovation and creativity grow which causes better opportunities to grow the business.


Modern leadership is a wide concept that includes a diversity of skills of the profession. The modern leader is passionate about growing a business and creating something sustainable and profitable in long term but has also social skills to lead people in the way that atmosphere let innovation and motivation flourish. Because people are the key to the success of the company, it is important to take into practice to think, how to combine these things together and how to lead emotions in own organization. How to transfer the focus from fact orientation to emotion and people-orientation?

Is authentic leadership a better option?

In the course of Modern Leadership Skills, various types of leadership theories have been introduced, like the Taylorism, Peter Drucker’s decentralization, X and Y theory by McGregor, Z theory, and Authentic leadership. Which one is seen as the superior model and most recommended nowadays?

The Taylorism is a management theory developed in the late 19th century. Taylor believes that the main purpose of business management is to increase labour productivity. He described that management is aiming to increase the output of each unit of labour. The purpose of increasing labour productivity is to increase the profit of the enterprise or to achieve the goal of maximizing profit. (Masterclass, 2020)). From today’s point of view, Taylorism is outdated since the method of treating workers as machine components is not only inhumane but also ignoring and losing the workers’ autonomy. Trust cannot be built between leaders and employees. However, we have to admit that it has a great influence on the industrial development in the world. Factories in developing countries are still using Taylorism as their bible.

Peter Drucker has a different opinion from Taylor, he believes that enterprise management should be decentralized (Paskewich, nd.). This means that management should assign appropriate tasks to different teams and assign appropriate permissions to allow employees to show their strengths so that employees can be more motivated at work. In his theory, goals and reflections are important tools for success.

The X and Y theory is a pair of theories based on two completely opposite assumptions. theory X believes that people are lazy, the structure is more important in the organization, while theory Y believes that people have a positive motivation for work and regard a job as an opportunity to develop themselves. Control and punishment are not the only way to achieve corporate goals. It can also be achieved by satisfying the needs of employees. The integration of personal goals and organizational goals can increase productivity. (Alan, 2021).

The Z theory by Ouchi is known as the “Japanese management” style, it focuses on increasing trust and communication between management and employees. (Communication Theory, nd). It encourages organizations to create a positive working environment and concern employees’ well-being as well as production.

There are many different definitions of authentic leadership. According to Bill George, authentic leaders are driven by a moral and ethical purpose and never lose sight of their core values and principles. They lead with their hearts, cultivate long-term relationships and demonstrate excellence through self-discipline (The 5-Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership, 2020). The research has shown that organization that takes authentic leadership style into practice employees’ job performance are more positive. (Peterson et al, 2012).

After more than a hundred years of development, the leadership theory has been developed to a number of styles. From transformational leadership (charismatic leadership), transactional leadership, Laissez-Faire leadership to today’s highly discussed authentic leadership. With the emergence of the theories introduced above with different genres, some of their concepts can be overlapped with each other, but we also can see that the ultimate goal of leadership is no longer to “control” the employees but to share and deeper value exchange. In this sense, authentic leadership is the closest one to our concept that emphasizes leading emotions, not only focusing on productivity.

Authentic leadership cannot be imitated and cannot be faked. It is based on long-term self-awareness and self-discipline. Fortunately, it can be learnt. It requires leaders to be consistent with their words and moves, faces themselves honestly, be transparent, and know how they look in the eyes of others. Only when the employees have enough trust in the leaders, they have a safe space to show their talents and actively seek assistance. As a leader, it is important to stick to the core values and morality, even in the face of severe challenges. Meanwhile to seek alternative opinions and remain open to discussions to understand different points of view.

Encourage the heart

Authentic leaders tend to be positive individuals, they can inspire the team, be truly trusted by the team, and motivate the team to get the best possible outcomes. When talking about motivation in the team, it’s easy to relate it with Encourage the Heart, the fifth practice from Leadership Challenge. GROW (The Grow Model, nd) coaching model is one of the methods that help with cultivating spontaneity, allow team members to take the initiative to make decisions, take responsibility for achieving high performance. In order to take GROW model into practice, firstly, leaders need to clarify what the team goal (Goal) is, explore the reality (Reality) based on the goal, evaluate the current situation, clarify the possible outcomes, impacts, the obstacles. Then list possible strategies or options (Option). Finally decide the action (Will), discuss and select the most suitable plan, and plan the next steps.

Taking care of employees’ well-being and happiness, letting employees experience happiness at work is one of the abilities that an authentic leader needs. According to Seligman’s research PERMA model – positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment covers indicate how people achieve wellbeing and happiness and can lead them to find the true meaning of life (What is PERMA, nd). Therefore, leaders have a responsibility to help employees find meaning at work. The concrete actions can be responding to members’ emails, messages and calls in a timely manner. Trying to communicate with members one-on-one, face-to-face. Giving and receiving positive and constructive feedback. Creating safe space-friendly relationships at work. Sharing team’s and personal value, vision, and goals discuss plan for that. Helping people find a sense of accomplishment at work.


This essay introduces different leadership theories, discussion about what modern leadership is, how to become a modern leader, and some specific methods and tools to use in practice. Leadership is such a broad topic, the entrepreneur or people in the leading role need these theories as the basis to slowly experience and improve in practice. While leading others, don’t forget self-leadership. Please keep learning by doing.



Alan, 2021 Theory X and Theory Y: Understanding People’s Motivations (According to McGregors Theory). Read 15.12.2021


Communication Theory, All About Theories for Communication. No date. Read 16.12.2021


Fürstberger, G. 2020. 5 Characteristics of Modern Leadership. International leadership development, Leadership Tips, MDI Inside. Published 24.11.2020. Read 12.12.2021.

Kamensky, M. 2008. Strateginen johtaminen. Menestyksen timantti. Talentum Media Oy. Kariston Kirjapaino Oy. Hämeenlinna.

Masterclass.com. 2020. Understanding Taylorism: The History of Scientific Management Theory. Masterclass articles. Updated 4.11.2020. Read 16.12.2021. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/understanding-taylorism-the-history-of-scientific-management-theory

Paskewich, J.C. No date. Rethinking organizational hierarchy, management, and the nature of work with Peter Drucker and Colin Ward. Article of Ephemera journal. Read 16.12.2021. http://www.ephemerajournal.org/contribution/rethinking-organizational-hierarchy-management-and-nature-work-peter-drucker-and-colin

Peterson, S.J., Walumbwa, F.O., Avolio, B.J., & Hannah, S.T. (2012). The relationship between authentic leadership and follower job performance: The mediating role of follower positivity in extreme contexts. Read 16.12.2021


The 5-Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership, The Leadership Institute/Authenticity 7 Jan 2020. Read 16.12.2021


The Grow Model, no date. Read 15.12.2021


Tuominen, C. 2020. Johda tunteita -menesty työelämässä. E-kirja. Tammi. Published 15.6.2020. Red 14.12.2021 at BookBeat.

What is PERMA, no date. Read 16.12.2021


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