We've recently conducted a survey to find out what UK workers deemed to be the best and worst traits in leaders. The feedback we received highlighted which leadership characteristics they admired, which traits they found demoralising, and if there was room for these qualities to be improved and refined over time.

Some of the findings are startling, while others indicate a pattern.

Top leadership qualities identified

Almost half (44%) of our respondents identified honesty as the most valuable characteristic a leader or manager can possess. Coming in a close second, 38% indicated that effective communication was key to high-quality leadership.

Almost one third (32%) of those we surveyed identified approachability as their top leadership quality, while a positive attitude was identified as great trait by a quarter (25%) of our respondents.

Our audience also pinpointed decision making as a key trait they looked for in their leaders, with 29% saying this was their top pick in leadership qualities.

Top 5 leadership qualities:

  1. Honesty 44%
  2. Communication 38%
  3. Approachability 32%
  4. Decision making 29%
  5. Positive attitude 25%

Poor leadership traits highlighted

A staggering 45% of the UK workforce have left a job due to bad management, with 70% of that demographic holding a director-level position.

Our survey revealed that unapproachability was the most offensive trait a leader could possess with 38% of the responses indicating this.

A further 35% identified poor communication as a deal breaker, and another 32% of our audience said that bad listening skills are to blame for poor management.

Remarkably, aggression was highlighted as a key factor that workers are noticing in the workplace. A third (33%) of our responses indicated that this trait was what led them to move roles.

Discrimination in the 21st century is simply unacceptable, yet 32% of our results highlighted this characteristic as an underlying problem in the workplace.

Biggest leadership pet peeves:

  1. Unapproachable 38%
  2. Bad communication 35%
  3. Aggressive 33%
  4. Bad listening skills 32%
  5. Discrimination 32%

Top 5 leaders during pandemic:

  1. Jacinda Ardern 54%
  2. Angela Merkel 23%
  3. Boris Johnson 16%
  4. Justin Trudeau 12%
  5. Scott Morrison 11%

How can leaders improve their skills?

Regular one-to-ones were picked as the top method for skillset improvement, both in leaders as well as workers. 42% of our responses indicated that frequent check-ins with their managers were the best way to address underlying issues.

41% of the responses around skill improvement identified that a more hands-on approach could fix essential issues, and a further 40% said that feedback was vital in achieving a better leadership ethos.

A combined 54% of workers stated that training courses (33%) and training conferences (21%) could further achieve a better leadership style. Continuous up-skilling can have immense benefits, and can be facilitated through online training courses, in-house training as well as specialist conferences that allow a front-row seat to industry leading methodologies and practices that help shape your management teams’ competencies.

Top methods for improving leadership skills:

  • Regular one-to-ones 42%
  • Being more hands on 41%
  • Feedback 40%
  • Training courses 33%
  • Training Conferences 21%
  • Self-learning 20%
  • Additional staff 11%

This survey has given us a real-world insight into the struggle’s workers face on a daily basis. However you choose to facilitate your personal leadership growth, we are here to provide you with all the support and resources you need to take your teams to a new level and achieve the goals you desire.

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