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Trends in Leadership

Last week an Australian CFO was elevated to the position of Chairman of Tesla, Elon Musk’s car and ba
Disruptors Handbook
Trends in Leadership
By Disruptors Handbook • Issue #119 • View online
Last week an Australian CFO was elevated to the position of Chairman of Tesla, Elon Musk’s car and battery company, following his requirement to step down as Chairman in response to his misleading statements on Twitter, about securing finance for a buyout of the company.
Robyn Denholm, currently CFO of Telstra, has served on Tesla’s board since 2014, and has a long history in senior executive positions at Toyota, Juniper Research, and Sun Microsystems, yet the media have expressed surprise at the appointment of Denholm to the important role. While Denholm had made statements a month ago indicating she was not in the running for the role of Chair, it is an unfortunate reality that reporting around women in business (or indeed any other discipline) is more of a novelty than the norm, and women as business leaders are generally considered with distrust and suspicion.
It is one of the many findings we have unearthed in our analysis of leadership trends around the world. We are currently preparing short courses on the subject of influence and leadership, and our research has been interesting, and sometimes eye-opening. For instance, one of the key emerging trends is the rise of the ‘accidental leader’, where expertise in a specific technology or process marks individuals out for leadership roles, regardless of whether they have either the desire or the communication capability to lead.
Recent leadership trends are focusing heavily on flexibility of attitudes to disruption, working hours, and risk, as well on human capital elements and willingness to learn. But they are also tracking concerted efforts around diversity in leadership and resisting negative responses to non-traditional leaders.
And of course, this is good news for the future of leadership practice. The evidence to support diverse and human-based skills among leaders is substantive and growing. Let’s hope that the media will eventually catch up with the rest of the world on what makes a decent leader.

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