4 insights on what it takes to be a ‘modern leader’


By Sarra Bejaoui, SmartPA Founder

“The world needs more female role models in decision making roles who are comfortable in bringing their natural feminine strengths to the role and to the board room.”

I was sitting on the train to work the other day, pondering on a conversation I’d had with a female acquaintance on LinkedIn. I’d been saddened to hear that she was reluctant to use the term ‘leader’, as she felt many of her colleagues associated it with largely masculine traits.

Why can it be, I thought, that we’ve travelled more than 20 years through the 21st Century and yet there are still people in business who remain consciously or subconsciously hardwired to the notion that leadership requires so called ‘masculine’ traits.

While this is very much a cultural issue, as a glass half full kind of person I’d like to think that perhaps we also unconsciously associate terms that have been around for a while with outdated perceptions. For example, I’m sure that if we used the term ‘modern leader’ we’d get a far more open minded reaction.

Once thing is certain. The world needs more female role models in decision making roles who are comfortable in bringing their natural feminine strengths to the role and to the board room. We also need them to be a role model for females and males alike, especially to the younger generation.

Equally though, I’d hope the day comes soon when we needn’t talk about ‘female leaders’ at all. Each of us should simply be a ‘modern leader’.

Anyway, that was enough hard thinking for one short train journey. It did, however, prompt me to consider the notion of the modern leader and how we support our leaders at SmartPA. So here are four quick insights:

Harness the Yin and Yang

At SmartPA, our approach is all about harnessing the yin and the yang of feminine and masculine energy, leveraging our unique strengths to create better, more effective workplaces for our colleagues (and our clients).

Get comfortable with emotion

Emotional Intelligence gives people a distinct leadership edge. It’s a naturally feminine strength and taps into your nurturing and caring abilities. For example, being able to read a room, or fully utilise the talents of your colleagues by tapping into their perspective and feelings, is hugely important in a modern leader.  It’s all about the ability to connect, build strong relationships with colleagues, unleash more from people and situations, and ultimately get to the root cause of every issue.

Energise the workplace

The modern leader understands how to unlock the natural strengths of their people. They can identify and stretch colleagues in their areas of natural strength, challenging them to excel in their areas of strength, rather than over emphasising weaker areas. Instead, they put a spotlight on the risks and blockers to performance and help their people reduce or mitigate these in positive empowering ways.


Modern leaders ‘get’ the importance of a positive work culture. They establish a unique and highly motivating work environment where everyone has the autonomy to think and the space to do their best work. They liberate their people, encouraging them to create a climate that is both safe and intense, understanding that removing fear and creating safety invites people to do their best thinking.



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