The People Leader Imperative: Defining people leadership for a modern world

Do people leaders matter more today than ever before? What does great people leadership look like? What can companies do to foster great people leaders?

People leaders have always been a powerful force in organizations. With hybrid workplaces, a new generation in the workforce (Gen Z), rise of AI and digitization, quickly changing geopolitical concerns, and more is people leadership more important than ever? 

TILTCO Inc. gathered business leaders, consultants and academics for Season 6 of the LeaderLab to capture insights on the role for people leaders, what great looks like and what companies and people leaders need to do to be the people leaders employees need today. 

In our first episode of this season, we speak to a roundtable of participants who offered the following insights: 

  • Trust and psychological safety are elusive; yet critical for greater success on teams. 
    Todd shared: “People who build trust well within an organization by reliably doing what they said they would do. They get to know you as a person and they care and are more in it for the team than they are for themselves can build trust and psychological safety for their team.” 
  • Giving feedback, like many parts of leadership takes intentional practice and a commitment to self-awareness.
    Diana shared: “Giving real time feedback, sometimes in very tough settings, you need to really have good EQ skills so that you can listen, you can deliver a message that’s appropriate to the person. It can be scary to give feedback, so it requires practice, because then it becomes easier over time.”
  • Leadership has always been important, but in today’s context, leadership matters more than before. 
    Jennifer shared: “Leaders will help steward how organizations will evolve their ways of working, helping to adapt to the ever-changing environment. In addition, the workforce is challenging a lot of organizations and companies to really change the way that they work, the way they listen to their employees.”
  • The role of the people leader has changed, demanding a new set of capabilities and responsibilities. 
    Eric shared: “I think a lot of times we look up to the leader to have all the answers and right now that’s probably the biggest miss of leadership. We need leaders to understand that you’re not going to have all the answers. Your team has to find some agency and that means, you as a leader, have to create the space for your team to be able to do that and be comfortable that you’re not all knowing.”
  • With people leaders expected to fulfill different roles in a company, the people systems that support them must also evolve. 
    Todd said: “Operating systems matter more than they’ve ever mattered. You need to build the operating systems of the company in a way that it is able to adapt faster to complex situations, build great culture and skill development, and handle these external factors as they come up.”

Thank you to our panelists:


TILTCO is a boutique consulting company that helps leaders define and execute their strategies in order to achieve extraordinary business and personal results. Founded by Tineke Keesmaat, she brings her more than 20 years of leadership consulting experience rooted at McKinsey & Company and Accenture to supports today’s leaders achieve exceptional results.