This week I am going to explore a topic that has some interesting dynamics. What leaders see as important traits. What their staff see as important traits in their leaders and the gap between these two sets of expectations. Before you get too far into this blog perhaps for fun you should list what you think the top five traits of a leader are and you can do your own analysis.
Is There A Gap In Perception?
What got me thinking about his was a Gallup poll of leadership in Germany in which 65% leaders who were polled felt that they did a good/great job. At the same time their staff were asked that question and their response was 25%! That's a pretty big gap.
I wanted to see if we could drill down into this gap a bit more. I looked at three studies* in which leaders are polled about what they feel are important traits for leadership. I also looked at three studies in which staff were asked the same question.
There was a lot more divergence in this group of traits across the three studies than I anticipated. However, one did make the top three in each study; Integrity or Honesty. The studies defined this as having high ethical and moral standards. In each of the three studies this trait ranked one or two as leaders see this a key to effective leadership.
The second trait that was common among the top five responses was Visionary or Providing Direction. In essence regardless of the different titles given in each study all three defined these terms the same way. "Having a clear idea about what the future should look like and how to get there."
Not all of these were shared by each study but at least two of the three studies had these traits; Humility, Communication and Creativity. Granted some of these share common characteristics with other traits like Openness, Flexibility and Trust. Nonetheless it gives us an interesting snapshot into what leaders see as important. Can we assume that they also feel that these traits are important to their staff? Tomorrow we will find out! Performance Leadership - Think About It!
*IBM Leadership Study, Giles Top Ten Leadership Competencies, HBR Group – “What is the single most important quality for a leader to have?”