What Employers Look For In A Leader VS What Team Members Look For In Their Leader

What Employers Look For In A Leader VS What Team Members Look For In Their Leader

Research of more than 1,300 Australian professionals found:

  • Employers ranked the top two leadership traits as ‘strong work ethic’ and ‘record of success’ however employees ranked the importance of these leadership traits as ninth and eleventh respectively;
  • Employees ranked the leadership traits of communication and team building as second and third in importance compared to employers who ranked these traits at positions nine and ten.

This clearly indicates that employers rate an individualistic, task focused and achievement approach as highly desirable in a leader but that employees highly value a team orientated and values/people focused approach from their leader.

This disparity creates a huge amount of conflict in teams where team members look to their leader to set a team inclusive, collaborative and supportive culture and are finding these leadership traits to be seriously lacking.

Such disparity also creates confusion for leaders and aspiring leaders who see higher level managers and executives being recognised and rewarded for project delivery and a ‘no nonsense, rapid change’ approach and are trying to emulate this style. Yet there is tension in their teams and they are having difficulty ‘bringing their teams along with them’ – to be motivated (like they are) to churn through tasks and meet project goals.

There is a clear need for leaders to be involved in training, coaching and mentoring programs to develop their communication and collaboration skills and to fully comprehend the benefits of understanding what motivates each team member.

Leaders of the future will require not just intellectual and emotional intelligence but an attitude of care for others and a curiosity for being able to adapt their leadership style to the needs of both the business and their team to ‘get the job done’ to the satisfaction of all involved.


Why just any type of Leadership Training Program won’t solve the deficit of skill in the leadership space.

Leaders in an organisation are leaders of what?

Are they leading the way in the organisation because they can competently follow and apply processes and problem solving process issues?

Are they leading the way because they hold the most technical knowledge about: a) the product (or service) being made and/or sold by the business; b) the IT system being used; c) the business finances, or d) the legal obligations of and restrictions on the business?

Are they leading the business because they are the longest standing employees still in the business?

Are they leading the way because they have the highest sales figures or they are the best sales person of their own personal brand?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then technical knowledge training is exactly what the leaders in your organisation require and will thrive on.

When leadership roles are assessed only against task completion, technical/product advances, budget figures, process improvement and project delivery based criteria then this is where the attention of the leaders is focussed and hence where we see most skill development. Historically these types of achievements have been favoured and rewarded and those with strengths in these areas have been drawn to applying for and staying in leadership positions.

Strangely, businesses who boast the most talent in these areas and have relied heavily on measuring and rewarding these talents have not been able to boast about sustained profits and increased market share. Because a short term vision on profit and market success breeds a culture that supports a narrow view of leadership.

But if the leaders in your organisation are also required to be leaders of people who are supposed to encourage and orchestrate each team member’s individual and the whole team’s success, then the provision of technical product and/or processes training will not address all skill components required to develop a comprehensive, multi-focused leadership style.

How does a leader, unconsciously influenced by a culture (in some places seemingly silent and other places loudly overt) that recognises and rewards individual metric based achievements, find time (or rather make time) to challenge and change their predominant leadership style?

A traditional leadership training program which typically provides theory, skills and strategies, but fails to address the pressures that a task focused business imposes on its leaders will also fail to ensure that leaders successfully develop their ‘people’ leading skills.

Taking a multi-focused approach to leadership

Only businesses which have multi–focused leaders (a focus on both people and task) will succeed in today’s competitive market which applies downward pressures on businesses to continually find efficiencies. These efficiencies can only be fully harnessed if every person in the business feels respected and really believes that their contribution matters.

Hence there is a need for a leadership program which engages with a leader’s intellect, develops a leader’s emotional intelligence, awakens a leader’s curiosity and entices a leader to believe in and set a vision for their own leadership journey. A journey during which their task performance is exemplary while at the same time, they are mindful to always find ways that, more often than not, will positively impact on each employee they come into contact with – from an unfamiliar employee whom they pass in the corridor to those they work closely with each day.

If this article has piqued your interest, contact Workplace Harmony Solutions to discuss how our leadership programs offer these types of outcomes for leaders in your business, no matter where your business is placed in the market and no matter where your leaders currently find themselves on their leadership journey.

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.