Three Ways to Rethink Leadership Development in a Post-Pandemic World


An effective leader often used to be seen as someone who is smart, fearless, and decisive. However, as more organizations shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, many leaders are struggling to live up to these old clichés. Traditional leadership styles don’t flourish in digital environments like they did during in-person ones. Additionally, uncertainty created by the pandemic is making many feel unsure about their decisions. 

Furthermore, the digitization of work is creating extra job responsibilities. Frequently related to new communications and cross-team functions, these responsibilities are often invisible, which makes it difficult for both leaders and their teams to adapt. As we previously reported, this is largely because their organizations expect them to make this shift on their own without any training. Adding to these concerns, large numbers of employees have been leaving their jobs during the Great Resignation, and many leaders are now struggling to manage teams that have lost valuable talent. 

While some organizations may hope things will go back to a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy, others are embracing the potential reality that things will never be the same. As such, organizations are beginning to rethink what makes a great leader, and adjusting their leadership development around these expectations.

How should we be rethinking leadership in 2022? Below is a summary of what Dr. Camille Preston, business psychologist and leadership expert, says are three way to strategize leadership development in today’s world, originally published in Fast Company:

Reconsider what you consider effective leadership:
According to Preston, many leaders today are embracing collaboration and uncertainty. “Put simply, the traditional ‘hero’ leader—the prototypical stealthy and certain leader—no longer offers a de facto model of outstanding leadership.” She believes that organizations need to redefine what constitutes great leadership, and determine how they are going to develop their teams moving forward.

Reevaluate what you consider high-potential employees:
Don’t just reconsider your understanding of excellent leadership. Make sure to also reconsider what you think of as a great employee. How you prepare employees for potential leadership positions will evolve alongside your understanding of what makes a great leader. “As a bonus, redefining leadership excellence may also provide your organization with a long-overdue opportunity to rethink who you’re recruiting and why, resulting in a more diverse leadership talent pipeline,” Preston states. 

Include leadership development in every facet of your organization:
With the world becoming less and less predictable, it’s important to integrate leadership development throughout your organization. Some examples include developing “trusted peer groups” in which employees can try out new skills and exchange ideas. This can also be a way to replace in-person leadership development opportunities and events with ones more suitable to remote work and hybrid environments.

The post-pandemic world will continue to present new and difficult challenges for leadership development. As such, it’s important for organizations to find non-traditional ways of developing leadership. These practices will help them survive and stay flexible in a world that grows increasingly unpredictable.  

Create Leaders in Organization

IEEE has partnered with Rutgers Business School to offer the IEEE | Rutgers Online Mini-MBA. Designed specifically for groups of ten or more within an organization, this program operates entirely online. It features topics including business strategy, managing product development, finance, negotiation, managing human capital, intellectual property strategy, and transformational agility.

Participants will learn how to make organizational decisions with both technical and operational considerations. After developing an understanding of how different functional groups interact to achieve overall goals, they will learn to apply their newly developed business skills to better align their technical capabilities with business strategy.

The program offers the option of a customized capstone project, completely aligned to the needs of your organization. As part of the project, you’ll receive feedback from program professors who have worked as engineering leaders themselves.

To learn more about the IEEE | Rutgers Online Mini-MBA for your organization, contact an IEEE Account Manager today.


Preston, Camille. (3 February 2022). Rethinking leadership development in an age of uncertainty. Fast Company. 

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