In preparing materials for an upcoming Leadership Development Session, I decided to conduct an informal survey of nearly 25 individuals, from CEO to individual contributor, to learn what they thought about leadership. Specifically, I wanted to know what adjectives employees use to describe leadership presence along with what behaviors or traits they believe diminish a leader’s overall effectiveness.

How does your leadership measure against these reported key themes, which were deemed highly valuable?

  • Are you approachable? If you portray an unapproachable attitude – such as I’m too busy, I’m too focused, I have higher priority needs than you – you may be diminishing your impact. Remember that staff does not come to you because they want to; it is because they need to.
  • Do you actively listen? Your direct reports and colleagues want to know that you have the ability to actively and deeply listen to others.
  • Are you distracted? Are you attentive during team meetings and 1:1’s? Not being “in the moment” or demonstrating a lack of focus was a common theme given to ineffective leadership.
  • Are you organized? What about your personal space? That matters too. Are your computer files or paper files organized? Preparing for meetings, not appearing flustered, showing a “steady at the helm” attitude are all traits that display confidence to others.
  • Are you arrogant or lead with your ego? These qualities diminish a leader’s impact. Consider ways to intentionally show compassion and help others bloom.

While the results were not surprising, they serve as a good reminder that as leaders we’re managing other’s perceptions as much as we are managing the work.


Source: The above themes represent close to 25 individuals from across our organization.