This qualitative research study examined trends and challenges faced by leadership development practitioners in developing emerging leaders for ambiguous working environments, particularly considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-five participants were interviewed using 16 questions related to competencies, changes in the leadership landscape, and best practices and challenges in developing emerging leaders for present-day working environments. The study found that leaders in hybrid and ambiguous working environments face increased demands, necessitating flexibility, and agility. The results emphasized the importance of a growth mindset and a desire to lead as foundational traits for emerging leaders. Strong communication and interpersonal skills were also crucial, including empathy and creating equitable experiences for distributed teams. A focus was placed on the leadership development gap during the transition from individual contributor to a leadership role. Employee-driven models and inclusivity were identified as important considerations for new leaders. Best practices for developing emerging leaders included coaching, personalized support, and simulations of real-life challenges. This research emphasized the importance of organizational support and behavioral shifts to develop emerging leaders effectively. Based on the research, leadership development practitioners should consider the evolving leadership landscape and emphasize the human element of leadership. This involves cultivating a growth mindset, nurturing a desire to lead, and providing personalized support for new leaders.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Development leadership; Leadership; Work environment

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Terri Egan