• Jeff Doolittle

4 Emerging Leadership Styles and Why You Should Care



The pandemic has disrupted the world, and it has been "trial by fire" for many leaders. The crisis has served as a validation test for espoused corporate values. Unfortunately, too many leaders and organizations have not weathered the COVID validation test well. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, today's reality is that more than half of employees are anxious about long-term job stability. Even worse, only 38% of employees believe business is putting people before profits. The reason this is so concerning is that trust is the foundation of the leader-follower relationship, and the CEOs of almost 200 companies agreed that shareholder value is no longer the main objective.

According to a group of chief executives from 181 major US corporations, the reimagined purpose of a corporation is "investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers and supporting outside communities" (Fitzgerald). No longer is the principal function of a corporation to serve its shareholders and increase profits. Instead, there is a new standard of corporate responsibility.


eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s philanthropic investment group has challenged corporate America to reimagine capitalism to "ensure that people who have been historically and systematically marginalized by structural racism, colonialism, paternalism, and indifference will have the opportunity, power, and the self-determination that comes from economic prosperity and a vibrant, fair, and responsive democracy" (Omidyar Network Report).


Our modern, complex, and diverse workforce operating in a digital age necessitates leaders to adopt a new leadership style. The following is one of my favorite quotes from the pioneer of the modern field of leadership studies.

"Probably more has been written and less is known about leadership than any other topic in the behavioral sciences" (Bennis).

New Emerging Leadership Theories and Styles


As the adage goes, what got us here will not get us there, and it is vital for today's leaders to learn more about new emerging leadership styles and theories.

Servant leadership, transformational leadership, authentic leadership, and spiritual leadership are four new emerging leadership styles and theories gaining increased attention globally. The following tables compare the motivations and characteristics behind each leadership style. The comparisons reveal the distinct differences that contribute to a better understanding of leadership.

Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership

While similar to servant-leadership, the central focus of transformational leadership is for organizational benefit. The primary focus of servant-leadership is on service to others.