Listen To Your Gut: How Do You Feel When Your Leader Is Around Other People?

Aside from what a leader does in the workplace or mission environment itself, what do you take away from how your leader carries him- or herself around other people?

Do you use those moments to pick up on certain attributes you admire, are indifferent toward, or could actually denounce?

In general, there seems to be an endless number of leadership lessons we can learn, each with a different understanding of what goes into effective leadership.

But leadership isn’t only learned in the classroom, in a book, or in a theory. It can in fact be taken on and refined in the real world as we witness the examples of leaders in action.

The theories of books and leadership programs – and blog posts — can only outline and present so much information. Reading and understanding is one thing; witnessing and living it is another.

So when you are in the real world, surrounded by varying levels of leadership, keep your eyes open to what it is the leaders are delivering and espousing.

Related Post: Free Leadership Learning Tool: Learn By Comparing Your Bosses

Don’t just pay attention to how others are impacted by that leadership. Of utmost importance, but probably least considered, is how you feel when you see your leader in action around other people.

Granted, those interactions won’t dictate your leader’s mission performance (management), but the way you feel about those everyday interactions is telling about how they rank in your eyes with regard to leadership prowess and understanding.

From not only witnessing those interactions, but analyzing them, you can take away the good, the bad, and the ugly in lessons. And you can do it just by paying attention and asking yourself how certain actions by your leaders make you feel. Here are just a few to consider:

How They Treat Other People In Person

What level of respect, consideration, and attention do they provide to those with whom they’re interacting? Is their demeanor seemingly consistent across the three groups below or does it vary vastly from one to the next? Granted, there may be different levels of urgency depending on situational circumstances, but there’s no reason the difference in approach should be that different.

  • Superiors Does the leader sacrifice integrity and who they are due to the fact that they are interacting with a superior? Are they as honest and straightforward as they can be, not fearing repercussions?
  • Laterals – Are they honest with this group or is there fear due to competitive pressures that does not allow them to be forthcoming with these peers? Hopefully, they understand the power of the work is what is important for all the stakeholders involved, and not who gets the credit.
  • Subordinates – Do they respect those who wield less power? Do they seek to be a servant to all, not just those who hold comparable or greater power than themselves? That is the true measure of integrity.

How They Speak Of The Mutual Interests Shared With Another Group

How a leader addresses the needs of another group is important as it demonstrates good communication, listening skills, and consideration. These tools allow the other group to be heard openly and honestly. There is no need for the leader to suppress the needs of that other group in an off-putting manner as the leader should be able to clearly articulate what the issues are at hand and make the best case for his or her own side.

How They Address The Needs Of Those Not Present

It is also crucial that your leader respect the needs of those who are not present in that moment. Some leaders may only respect the needs of those who are present, dismissing the needs of those who aren’t.

How does your leader speak of and for those who are not in the room, but who clearly have a stake in the work?

How They React When They…

  • …Get Their Way Do they boast or brag when they achieve their desired outcome? It is ok to be proud of an achievement or a goal accomplished but to incessantly boast demonstrates disregard for humility and others.
  • …Don’t Get Their Way Hopefully, your leader is mature enough to react accordingly when something does not go their way. There is no need to curse anyone (or anything) out.

The way in which a leader reacts is telling of their true leadership abilities and nature.

How They Treat People In The Workplace Differently

Biases can be the undoing of a team or group. The repeated subtle gestures a leader may make in favor of one person or another, regardless of the merit of the work, lowers the morale of those not in the favorable light of the leader. A leader cannot let personal preference reflect in the work when they need to, in fact, draw everyone to the table to put their best effort forward. Might you be treated in a better or worse manner than others in your group?


What does your gut tell you about how your leader interacts with others? Use that feeling to determine which lessons to best take away from the relationship.

Not only are there great leadership lessons to take away, but paying attention to those interactions may provide warning signs for a toxic and/or deteriorating environment due to that leader’s actions (or inactions).

The way your leader interacts with others can sabotage the work you and your colleagues are doing, undermining your mission.

As you begin to pay closer attention to such situations, what are the details which surface to color the overall picture of how you perceive your leader.

Think about how your leader’s behavior reconciles with your own values and expectations. If you don’t keep that in mind today, it may catch up with you tomorrow.

So, What About You?

  • How do you feel about the way your leader carries themselves around others?
  • What are the takeaways – the good and the bad – which you can utilize for your own development and assessment?
  • How has your leader’s behavior impacted the way you consider your own leadership and the perception others may have of you?

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