Modern Leadership: Shifting Mindsets, Meta Skills, and Sphere of Impact

February 17, 2023



Modern Leadership: Shifting Mindsets, Meta Skills, and Sphere of Impact

Modern Leadership: Shifting Mindsets, Meta Skills, and Sphere of Impact

Zoë Routh is a leadership futurist and multiple award-winning Author. Zoë discovered and developed her own leadership skills in the wildernesses of Canada and Australia, learning from and then running Outward Bound training. She shares insights from her ongoing work with leaders and teams exploring what’s ahead and what that means for leadership of the future. Zoë discusses aspects of her fourth leadership book, “People Stuff - Beyond Personality Problems: An Advanced Handbook for Leadership”, how to move through difficult transitions, and the meta-skills required for the world of tomorrow.


[02:33] Zoë’s leadership initially manifests with her volunteering to carry a moose “rack”!

[04:33] The different ways leaders show up.

[6:09] Why it made sense for Zoë to be carrying the canoe, but not others.

[06:57] Zoë rethinks what is fair and equitable.

[08:14] Zoë leaves Canada and starts nine years with Outward Bound in Australia.

[08:50] HR for wilderness expeditions is far more complex and nuanced than for “office” jobs.

[10:06] How staff have to manage the emotional duress of being part of a group.

[12:04] People joining Outward Bound as staff have a human-centered value set which guides them.

[13:06] Staff go through a challenge course to learn from and be able to relate to lived experiences.

[14:00] Zoë learns the commonalities of Outward Bound and corporate experiences.

[15:03] The sources of most dysfunction and conflict at work.

[15:58] Zoë learns more about leadership theory at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

[17:59] How archetypes are practical—rather than theoretical—to embody and act upon.

[19:34] Leaders need to understand the context of any situation before deciding how to act.

[20:18] Flexibility and adaptability are essential for good leadership.

[21:25] An exercise in self-awareness—especially understanding shadow sides of archetypes.

[23:15] Technology is driving many shifts and challenges us to do things differently—which Zoë finds exciting.

[25:03] Leaders need to be authentic, genuine, and ethical—transparency is key.

[25:50] ESG principles are not “nice to have” but need to be integrated aspects of operations.

[28:27] First new theme for leaders: Negotiation as employees bargain more.

[29:27] Second theme: Increased responsibility for managing employees’ well-being, using empathy.

[31:16] Zoë sees three major shifts for leaders: maximizing energy, reducing friction, and amplifying ability.

[32:51] Why people are struggling with the shift to delegating, coaching, and training.

[33:46] Leaders need to think about their system-wide “sphere of impact” which is a massive maturity shift.

[36:01] Transition generates grief, growing pains, and a sense of failure, getting comfortable with discomfort is a new necessary meta skill for leaders.

[38:50] How younger employees are reacting to being stuck in the conventional system—radical change is (mostly) not evident to Zoë.

[41:02] Zoë believes the rising tide of ESG will wash through everything and start to change the entire ecosystem.

[41:22] Zoê’s views on the Future of Leadership and the three meta skills to embrace: exploring, mapping, and adapting.

[43:09] Adaptation goes beyond resilience.

[43:48] Major trends: transparency, collaboration, and co-creation, as well as collective decision-making through DAOs.

[45:08] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Consume—being selective and intentional about what you’re reading and listening to. Question—sit back and ask “what does this mean?”. And then Connect—give your brain rest time that allows your subconscious to make the connections between the threads.


“Everybody contributes to the group to the best of their individual ability. It's not a question of sharing all the jobs equally. That's not equitable and that's not fair.”

“The risk management for the wilderness is easier than managing the emotional duress of being part of a group in difficult circumstances. That's probably the more nuanced and challenging aspect of the role.”

“The idea that leaders need to have mental health first aid as part of their role and be caretakers is absolutely a big shift.”

“It’s more about my sphere of impact. It’s not just about my little pool of work. It’s the whole ecosystem.”

“There are leaders who are individually resourced and emotionally intelligent enough to want to poke the bear, prod the edges, and start to make some systemic change.”

“Caring for each other and realizing that people's mental health and personal well-being is on the table as part of being able to deliver the work.”

“The rising tide of ESG, I think, is going to be the thing that will wash through everything and start to changes things across the entire ecosystem.”

“From an individual point of view, to explore, map, and adapt are the three key areas that leaders will need to cement and embed into their leadership habits and rituals as they go forward.”