new generation

Three Biggest Challenges for e-Leaders

Three Biggest Challenges for e-Leaders

by Alex Kinmont

The boundary between real life and the internet is blurring. With the way that we are living online comes an opportunity and a need to be led online and so the next generation will rely on a leader’s ability to navigate the digital world. For a way of life that is dependent on the internet, leadership online and leadership in the physical world can no longer be separate.

Electronic Leadership, termed e-Leadership, is leadership in today’s technological and information-rich era. The three biggest challenges which leaders will have to navigate online are fake news, cancel culture and selfish online activism.

  • Fake News

Fake News is any media which is not just untrue but intended to mislead or misrepresent for political or financial gain. The omnipotence of the internet means that news, fake or real, has the ability to socially engineer people as well as make a lot of money.

The 2018 Cambridge Analytica data scandal is a prime example of the danger of fake news and social engineering. Facebook was accused of letting company Cambridge Analytica illegally harvest the personal data of 87 million people in order to use online ads and misinformation to target and influence the 2016 US elections and Brexit. Since our lives influenced by what we see daily online, the nature and content of what we see has the power to change how we think. When the influences are fake, this becomes an incredibly dangerous issue, with real-world consequences on a national scale.

Today’s leaders need to navigate a world of misinformation. The democracy of the internet is both incredible and problematic, and as of last year the biggest digital giant of all, Facebook, admitted that they don’t have full control of what goes online. The internet is uncontainable, and our leaders need to know how to lead around that.

  • Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture is the act of ‘cancelling’ a person or organisation when they do something wrong or problematic. This can be done through boycotting, blocking and publically shaming the perpetrator. As a form of mob justice, although positioned as fighting for good, it is easily and dangerously flawed.

The most significant example of Cancel Culture and its reach was the cancelling of Beauty YouTuber James Charles earlier this year. Charles received massive backlash after he promoted a product on Instagram which is the direct competition of his best friend’s company. Charles was called out on his betrayal as well as allegations of sexual harassment.

The internet storm which followed lost Charles over 3 million subscribers and earned him a multitude of commentary and memes. A couple of days later, Charles publically responded, disputing the accusations and giving his side of the story. Tables turned as the internet realised there was not enough evidence to substantiate either person’s story.

Charles may have gained back his following, but the internet has forever changed. The whole debacle highlighted a key issue with Cancel Culture- that it spreads far too fast and does not rely on evidence or fact. The speed at which a story or video can go viral is dangerous, illustrating the automatic and lazy nature at which we consume digital media.

Leaders today will have to deal with the consequences of a society that has learned to cancel those with differing opinion without waiting for proof of the crime. Mob justice is a tricky issue to squash, because one may come across as defending the perpetrator’s crime rather than their right to justice.

  • Social Justice Warriors

Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have quickly earned a negative reputation. Like the vigilantism of cancel culture, the root motivation of Social Justice Warriors is good – to stand up for minority groups and change oppressive behaviours, philosophies and leaders. However, the extremity of SJWs has increased tenfold with the internet and social media, so much so that the term social justice warrior has become derogatory.

Why are SJWs seen to be hostile and self-interested? Making a social media post is quick, easy and free. It can also be anonymous. The ease at which we can voice our opinions to a large audience of people has led to lazy opinions being heralded without question; like fake news and cancel culture, the need for evidence comes second to the need for attention.

Social Media Activists are often accused of being vocal on social media for reputational purposes rather than real philanthropy. Hashtag activism, where social movements are started and mostly carried out online, is accused as being lazy activism – where one can write a post denouncing poverty and then go back to watching TV without donating money or doing any charity work.

Activism online is controversial. People question whether those promoting a hashtag really care for the issue or just want to seem like they’re doing something good. The ease at which we can protest online has led way for these assumptions and accusations.

In a time where SJWs are out to fight any battle they can with the sole motivation of stroking their own ego, prominent figures ad companies need to be extra-careful in where and how they tread. Where guilty parties can be rightfully held accountable, innocent parties can be sentenced without trial.

The digital age has brought with it a new way of living and with it, the need for a new way of leading. Leaders are those who stand out from the crowd as willing to choose a path and guide others’ down it. In a time where opinion is at risk of being based on fake news, cancelled and called out, to voice a legitimate opinion is not an easy feat.

The internet and Social Media has changed the very fabric of our society, altering how we communicate and how we see justice. With fake news altering perception, mob justice fuelling the inability to voice opinion, and the lack of regard for evidence and fact in an argument, the internet can be a dangerous place. e-Leadership is the ability to surpass these obstacles and help others do the same.

How will the Next Generation Lead?

How will the Next Generation Lead?

by Alex Kinmont

We are currently living in a period of rapid change. The rise of the digital has made us a more aware society, able to access and share information and news like never before. Political figures are being held accountable online, digital activist groups are calling out large corporations and updates of environmental destruction are being highlighted across social media. We are in a climate of both social fragility and social growth.

In an exponentially evolving era, it is more vital than ever that we learn how to adapt. We need to live and work in a way which is in sync with the changing world.

The key is effective leadership.

South Africa’s next generation will be working and leading in an entirely new environment. They will navigate a world of online social and political activism and environmental crises.

So how will they lead each other in this novel era?

There are many different types of leadership. Each type works better according to environment. In such a rapidly changing time, which leadership style will be best for the future?


Here are 5 common leadership types:

  • Autocratic

Absolute, authoritarian control where an individual makes decisions for the many. Countries in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa have more Authoritarian-led governments, such as China, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

  • Democratic

A Democracy is where decisions are made by a group. An individual may offer guidance but does not have total control. South Africa is run by a democracy, as well as many developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA.

  • Laissez-faire

Where leaders allow others to make decisions and offer minimal guidance. Also known as free-reign, delgative or hands-off leadership.

  • Transformational

Leadership which inspires and expects change within an individual or within an organisation.

  • Transactional

A leadership style where leaders encourage cooperation and success through rewards as well as punishments.

So how do we know what leadership style will best suit the next generation?

The most prominent example of a recent student movement is the #FeesMustFall protests. Occurring predominantly between 2015 and 2017, young people prided these events as being ‘leaderless’. What kind of leadership type is no leadership at all?

The next generation is revolutionising traditional hierarchies. Whereas some say leaderless movements are not as effective as they could be, what the new generation is moving towards is a more collaborative, equal society. This is a direct rejection of our country’s separatist and unequal past.

In an age where social justice is rife, equality is the essential goal.

Young leaders will adopt equality-driven leadership styles. Democratic, transformational, even hints of laissez-faire, will be favoured. As a fluid concept, young people are no doubt going to alter, switch and mix different leadership styles in order to come up with their own for the new world of work.

Flat leadership seems to be a probable choice, or at least variations thereof. Flat leadership ignores hierarchy and fixed job labels. It is more fluid, open to collaboration and equal opinion. The New York Times describes it as being “characterized by arbitrary labels in place of concrete titles, and an emphasis on an overall goal, but without a delineated hierarchical or “class” system”.

Whatever the next generation chooses, it will no doubt be unique in order to fit with the near future’s technological landscape. Between Global Warming and 4IR, how we live, whether we like it or not, is going to change. It’s already changing, and our leaders will bear the burden of leading us through it.