We all understand that good leaders build good teams, but latest research from the Hay Group suggests that more than half of the leaders in organisations are demotivating their teams through inappropriate leadership behaviours.

The relationship between leadership and performance is well understood, what remains a persistent mystery is what leadership behaviours drive tea performance and which are those that hinder. We understand the main principles, such as good communication, setting direction and so on, but what’s not clear is the exact, define list…..that’s open to debate amongst the authors of the huge array of leadership texts.

Research from the Hay group suggests that 18% of leaders had been able to create high-performance environments for their employees, while more than half (53%) had generated demotivated working climates.

What are negative leadership behaviours?

  1. Avoids telling the truth
  2. Blames others
  3. Covertly monitors performance
  4. Highly suspicious of others
  5. Too willing to criticise
  6. Indecisive
  7. Lacks focus and frequently changes their mind
  8. Hypocritical – unable to lead by example
  9. Avoids responsibility
  10. Jealous of other skills and experience

The above is a snapshot, but is based on independent studies of leadership behaviour.

What does a good leader look like?

Now, this is the tricky part what does a good leader actually look like. the phrase look like is important as leadership is a way in which someone behaviours – this behaviour then creates a positive image in the other persons mind. So we can say leadership is based on observable behaviours.

  1. Honesty. Always do the honest thing. It makes employees feel like they know where they stand with you at all times.
  2. Focus. Know where you’re going and have a strong stated mission to lead people on. You have to have strong focus and stay the course.
  3. Passion. Whatever it is, you must have passion for what you’re doing. Live, breathe, eat and sleep your mission.
  4. Respect. Not playing favorites with people and treating all people
  5. Integrity. They are people who are respected and worth listening to.
  6. Support. Listen to what others have to say and ask for their opinions.
  7. Discipline. Leads by example and acts as a consistent and persistent positive role model – 24/7, 365
  8. Fearless. Takes the tough line when needed, asks the questions others don’t want to answer.
  9. Challenging. Sets the high standards and drives others to reach it, does not accept adequate.
  10. Self Aware. Constantly reflects on own performance, seeks feedback from the team, prepared to take on board criticism


The above list could be classed as common sense, but after coaching over 100 leaders it’s not always that obvious. All of the above positive behaviours take effort to actually deliver and require the leader to adopt a positive mindset and unlearn years of bad habits.

The Hay Group research suggests that – Good leadership has the power to energise, engage and motivate staff to go the extra mile for their organisation. Poor leadership will have the opposite effect, creating a demotivating environment and leading, in time, to poor team performance – including high staff turnover and frequent absences.

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