Strengths & Weaknesses of Contemporary Leadership

by Audrey Farley; Updated September 26, 2017
Contemporary leaders are trained to value and acknowledge each person.

Contemporary leadership reflects progressive ideals of equality and collaboration in leadership. According to contemporary trends, leaders are encouraged to co-exist and collaborate with subordinates rather than to dictate or rule over them. Contemporary leadership trends promote “leaders,” rather than “managers.” There exist both advantages and disadvantages of contemporary leadership.

Strength: Emotional Intelligence

Contemporary leadership practices encourage leaders to possess and utilize emotion and social intelligence, in addition to knowledge, talents and skills. According to “Contemporary Issues in Leadership,” effective leaders exhibit emotional and social intelligence. Emotionally and socially intelligent leaders think before acting rashly, focus on goals, understand other people's emotions and have the ability to establish common ground among workers. Because of contemporary leadership's identification of these important talents, major corporations are hiring executives that have or encouraging executives to learn effective practices and behaviors of emotional and social intelligence.

Weakness: Emphasis on Personality

Contemporary leadership trends place a high value on the characteristics of leaders, including personality traits. For instance, contemporary leaders are people with confidence, drive and strong interpersonal skills. However, some critics worry that the over-emphasis on personality characteristics distracts from other critical qualifications of leaders. Leaders should, according to some, be the best and the brightest, having knowledge, vision and intellectual superpower, not just a combination of desirable personality traits.

Strength: Non-hostile Work Environments

An advantage of contemporary leadership is the movement toward more democratic, non-threatening work and business environments. Leaders are encouraged to acknowledge subordinates as equals with whom they collaborate, rather than as objects that they own or manage. For instance, leaders are trained to use terms such as “our team” rather than “my team.” These kinds of practices affirm each person, making all people feel valued for their contributions. People are motivated to collaborate and work together because they are respected for their contributions, not denigrated as the slaves or servants of executives.

Weakness: Need for Hierarchy

While equality makes for a positive office climate, there are potential downsides of such egalitarian approaches to the work environment. Progressive notions of contemporary leadership discount the practical need for hierarchy. In order to function, a business or organization has to have rules, and thus, it has to have persons of authority to enforce rules. To an extent, workers should regard leaders as authority figures (rather than as friends or equals), so that they take rules seriously, feel accountable and perform to standards.

About the Author

Audrey Farley began writing professionally in 2007. She has been featured in various issues of "The Mountain Echo" and "The Messenger." Farley has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches English composition at a community college.

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