What are the new rules of leadership for tomorrow’s world?

6 min readFeb 11, 2024


Runa Magnusdottir interviews Mahmud Samandari

What follows are highlights from an interview with Mahmud Samandari by Runa Magnusdottir.

RUNA: Mahmud I had such epiphany, a real Soul connection when we had our conversation that helped me shape chapter 19 in my book Beyond Gender: The New Rules of Leadership: Shattering Old Gender Roles Leading With Vision, Diversity & AI.

I wrote there just a little of what I captured from you. This is the chapter titled “Leaving a legacy, lighting the path for future leaders”.
I quote your wisdom when you say leadership is not about one person at the helm, it’s about nurturing ideas, sharing collectives, and inspiring organizations to flourish. You then say that leadership should be an all encompassing force that values the contribution of every individual.

This is a music to my ears. Now here’s my question. This might sound like common sense but it’s definitely not a common practice.
Can you explain why you think this is important as we’re moving forward not only through the fourth Industrial Revolution but really heading fast into the fifth Industrial Revolution where technology meets Humanity.

MAHMUD: I see that we have many things in common but one of the nicest ones is that you wrote the book for your granddaughter and I participate in many of these events for my granddaughters.
So that is why legacy matters. That is why legacy is on our minds.

I think there are several reasons for doing this beyond just common sense. It is also important to remember that this is not something new, but that it has always been the case.
For example if you look at war movies there is always a scene where the general or the leader gets on his horse and gives a pep talk and an inspirational talk. Its purpose is to boost morale and get people ready.
To even give their lives if necessary for a cause.

This is inspiring a community of people to flourish by reminding them of the untapped capacity that is in them.

So this is not only for the fourth and fifth and other coming industrial revolutions. It is part of human reality.

Now it is also true that in that old style of leadership we had an assumption. That assumption was that the leader knew and the others did not.
The leader had experience. The leader had been “to wars” before. The leader knew about strategy. He knew about history; so it was almost a monopoly of knowledge.
Therefore everybody looked up to the one who knew in order to benefit from that knowledge.
That knowledge brought power with it.

This is no longer the case: with the advances in innovation and large scale access to knowledge, that monopoly has been eroded.

The leader is no more the one who knows everything he not the repository of knowledge and that is why

access to knowledge is the right of every human being in our time and participation in its generation application and diffusion is a responsibility that all must share in the great enterprise of building a prosperous world Civilization.

Each individual should live up to that responsibility according to his or her talents and abilities. Because justice demands universal participation.

Now I can compare the process of the evolution of societies to that of a human being. At the beginning it’s just a seed, then a fetus, then a baby, and eventually a mature being. Its needs and capacities and challenges evolve over time.
This evolution is also how leadership evolves. Just like a child needs its parents to lead — preferably by example — as the time goes by and maturity approaches, parents need to create the conditions for children to exercise more and more agency.
It is then that children will start to co-create with parents and in the same manner

the leader does not need anymore to know everything but create the conditions for the team to discover what is is needed; as we do not know what is needed, we have to discover it.

That is also one of the big challenges of our universities. They don’t know what to teach students, because by definition the future is unknown, even more uncertain than in the past.

RUNA: There is so much wisdom in those words Mahmud.
My second question refers to what I share in the book about your profound wisdom around ethical leadership and building trust. Can you tell us more about that concept and how you see that being one of the vital roles in leadership moving forward?

MAHMUD: First of all I would not want to engage in a theoretical conversation about the definition of Ethics. In a very practical way I think ethics is about coherence or balance or equilibrium, or even harmony.
This is because in practice we are never confronted with a fact in isolation, it’s always in a context.
One simple example in Colombia after 60 years of war with guerilla fighters, the government came to an agreement with the FARC in order to create peace.
The fundamental value or principle the government had was to reach peace as fast as possible. When that agreement was put to public approval it was denied. It was denied because the fundamental value that people had in their mind was justice.
So it’s easy to talk about peace or justice individually and in abstract. The complication or the ethical aspect of it comes when you put them together and you find the right balance, coherence.

Are we right now living in a world where coherence can be found at all levels; starting with individuals, then institutions and communities? I guess not. So what we need is to do a little bit of rethinking.
So the ethical aspect is to rethink a number of things. For example the definition of success.
Isn’t our definition of success, a one-way materialistic approach?
Even when we do an evaluation of people in the office at the end of the year, we look at their sales, we look at their contribution to the bottom line.

There is however a simple way to look at success differently.
We can evaluate people as we do in football: not only the number of goals they scored. Instead it could be based on the goals they assisted.

It’s a little change of paradigm, a little nudge in our way of looking at things, in order to move away from an incoherent black and white, in the box or out of the box.

We keep hearing about quantum and metaverse, but I would like us to remember that we live in a metaverse world from the day we are born. Because we have two eyes; with only one we do not see depth.

So the fact is that things are not either or, but the combination of things that we can combine in the best way. It is also in the physical reality of how we see things.

Now coming to trust. Trust is something that I need to develop within my organization by first being trustworthy. This is what I have seen in my organizations and I’ve seen with organizations with which we work at soul.com : it’s all about creating the right conditions.

Again I come back to the conditions for others to develop their capacity.
If they have the opportunity to develop their capacity, trust will emerge. Because they will realize that this is the best contribution to what they need to do.

Each one of us needs to develop of our inherent capacities.

Listening. The fundamental question of trust, goes hand in hand with listening.
Again the problem of polarization. It is also about simplifying things because people don’t want to listen. As soon as you open your mouth they know what you’re going to say. They know it is simple and they know that they don’t need to think. Therefore developing the capacity to listen is fundamental.

There is another important capacity that we all need to develop in this age. It is to challenge our assumptions.
If we manage just to start with a small daily effort, it can then be learned over time, it’s practice.
It is like yoga and breathing. We all breathe all the time, but when we need to breathe better, we take yoga courses.

Let’s imagine ourselves every day thinking of challenging one assumption of ours. That will create trust around us.

You can watch the interview on ebbf’s youtube channel here:




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