Employees and executives agree that integrity and fairness are the most important qualities in a corporate leader, finds a new study from Robert Half Management Resources.
"Leaders who act with integrity and treat people well help maximize the contributions of their employees and build goodwill for their organization," Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said in a statement. "As important as these attributes are for managing a team, they also drive business by attracting investors, customers and potential staff members."
While employees and executives agreed on the two most important qualities, they differed a bit on the other attributes they thought were most critical. Employees said they want to work for corporate leaders who are decisive and have a strategic mind-set, while the executives surveyed said being collaborative, transparent and accessible were other important traits of a leader.
Employees said competiveness was the quality they valued least, with executives saying decisiveness was the trait they placed the least amount of emphasis on. [See Related Story: What Is Thought Leadership, and Why Does It Matter?]
The study did reveal that age plays a role in what attributes employees and executives deem most important. The research found that 72 percent of workers over the age of 55 ranked fairness as a top-three attribute for corporate leaders, compared to just 44 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34.
Additionally, more than twice as many younger workers and executives felt that having a strategic mind-set was important, compared to their older counterparts.
Based on the study's results, Robert Half Management Resources said there are three takeaways managers can act on immediately to improve their leadership abilities:
- Set a good example. It is important to set the right example not only with your behavior, but also with your actions. You want to take care of any performance issues quickly in order to show that you don't let problems fester.
- Be honest. Don't let rumors spread through your office. When things in the company are happening, you want to tell employees as much as you can about these events. It's OK not to have all the answers. When you don't, just be honest and tell employees as much as you can and let them know you will try find out more as quickly as possible.
- Support your employees. You need to be an advocate for your team members and stand up for them during difficult times. In addition, it's important to support their career growth by highlighting their accomplishments to everyone in the company.
The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. professionals age 18 and over and employed in office environments, as well as more than 2,200 chief financial officers from companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.