10 Leadership Qualities that Scare the Status Quo

Sara Baker Headshot

by Dr. Sara Baker

I believe in the power of leadership. Leadership is not about being perfect or flawless, it's about being passionate and committed to something bigger than you. It's about having an open heart while being courageous enough to take risks that will push you into new territory, so that when you are there, others can follow your lead.


Tired of not seeing results from the old styles of leadership, aka the "way we've always done it," and ready to make the status quo run for the hills?

Leadership in today's world requires a different focus than the way managers motivated teams in years past. The management techniques from the old days need a facelift and we've got just the list of leadership qualities to make that happen.

In today's workforce, it's hard to find time to take a break or to even catch your breath, when you are the leader. Every day your feet hit the floor and you are off and running to guide your team to greatness. It hasn't always been this way.

In the old days of managing, you might have been able to move a little slower, taking your time. Because your role as the manager didn't require much more than your old job as an individual contributor.

Maybe you had to yell at your team occasionally for missing a deadline. Had to tell them to keep their heads down and stay on the task at hand.

The manager made sure the team did not step too far outside of the boundaries laid out for their role. But that was about it.

|  Those days are over.

In our constantly changing world, full of technology and almost constant disruptive innovations, the new leadership requires, no, demands, a different approach.

As a leader today, you must look introspectively into your daily actions and cast aside the old actions that no longer serve your purpose.

The days of old are past and with them the archaic management styles based on fear. The leadership qualities needed today differ drastically from what we needed in the past.


The status quo is changing. More leaders are embracing positive leadership, where the leader serves to empower, synergize and motivate the team.


Nowadays, the solutions for the problems in our businesses often come from the front-liners who are engaged in the day to day customer experience. In order for those team members to produce solutions, the fear-based workplace must become an echo of the past. Our new workplaces, where creativity abounds, are replacing the taskmaster driven workplaces of old.

Fear shuts down the creative, problem-solving parts of the brain. In response, successful leaders create and foster a workplace culture where employees know they are valued and empowered to be a positive part of creating new solutions.

How do you know if you are part of the old way of leading with fear or the new way of leading through positivity?

Check the list of 10 leadership qualities that scare the status quo below to see where you stand. Are you scared or scary?

1. Caring

You take time to recognize that your team is made up of real people, with real lives outside of work and you don't hate them for it.

Yes, your primary focus lies with work productivity, but you spend a little time asking about their "other" lives and you truly listen when they speak. In return, they feel valued as an individual and less like a cog in the machine.

2. Communication Central

You know WHAT to communicate and WHEN to communicate. You don't allow fear to stop you from communicating difficult issues or in crises.

You ensure that you always review the last version of any primary communication before it is distributed. Non-essential communications can be delegated to trusted team members.

However, communications that fulfill a critical purpose, such as those sent during or following a crisis, require your eye and your heart to oversee the tone and the content before it goes out so that it clearly communicates your vision.

3. Coach

You have honest, individual conversations with your team members when they stumble. You help them with caring feedback and concrete examples of how they might address the issue differently in the future.

You respond quickly, but kindly, when a team member responds harshly or rudely to other team members. Disrespectful language can quickly erode the trust and functionality of even a thriving team. Often, when people speak out of frustration or fear the nasty tone and rude words do not actually represent what the person intends to communicate.

Coaching conversations make a positive impact when held privately between you and your team member. The focus is not on chastising, it is on creating an awareness of the behavior and providing alternatives to express oneself, especially when disagreeing, in a respectful way.

4. Developer

You spend time helping your team explicitly identify their strengths and you guide them in maximizing those strengths. As you divide up work tasks, you assign team members to the areas that capitalize on their strengths.

You provide stretch assignments in areas of strengths so that your team continues to expand their skillset and experience level. When used as a motivator, matching strengths with projects creates excitement and passion for the work.

5. Empowering

You understand that the purpose of a team is precisely so that you don't have to do every job on your team. So you provide guide rails for your team, a clear picture of where you need them to end up and then you trust them to do their job.

You check in with them to make sure they are making progress and to see if they need your support. You do not take the project over, instead of encouraging and supporting, such as by serving as a thought partner to help problem-solve key hang-ups.

You hold the team accountable, individually and as a team, but you do so respectfully and by providing feedback to help them improve their work products as needed.

6. Fearless External Focus

You don't allow your fear of being out-shined by the people on your team stop you from helping to develop them. You know that helping each team member to strengthen leads to a stronger, more successful team where you can count on exceeding goals.

Increasing the performance of your team and growing potential future leaders takes precedence over any fear you may feel. As the leader, you give credit to team members for successful projects and take the blame for slip-ups. You do not insist upon being recognized individually for the success of your team. And you never, never, claim that the work of a teammate is your work alone.

7. Internal Strength

You know the importance of balancing authenticity with calm and vulnerability. Your team needs to know you are a real person with feelings. They also need to know that you will guide them calmly through the storms.

When changes occur, even if you feel rattled, you must show your team that you believe it will be okay. It is important to not dismiss concerns brought up by your team during times of change or difficulty. But, you should not dwell on the concerns, nor should you allow your team to dwell on the negativity.

Every challenge can be framed as an opportunity to take a different path, explore a different approach and possibly end up somewhere even better than you had originally planned.

Different is not worse, it is just different. Let your team know that you understand their angst and then provide them a way forward so they can move past it.

8. Big Picture Strategy

You understand the larger goals of your team, how they tie into the organization's goals and how they serve the greater good AND you know how to articulate it.

In good times, you will find it easy to keep the team focused on the vision. During challenging times, it takes more effort. But, by using consistent vision-focused language you will bring the team back to the purpose and refocus their energy on meeting your goals.

When change rattles the team's perspective and they start to veer off-course, a reminder of why you are all engaged in the work that you do will help to bring them back to center.

9. Humility

You stopped pretending to know everything a long time ago. You know how to guide your team in being creative to find solutions and in staying on track to deliver results. You don't need to take the credit to feel successful.

Your purpose in being the leader centers around helping the team to reach excellence. Your goal in leading is not to feed your ego and be the big boss. Team members sense and will respond positively to true humility and will respect you more than if you are egotistical.

10. Data Savvy

You know data is essential to staying abreast of your team's performance. You know what data to gather and how to use it to coach your team to reach your goals.

You do not allow other departments to drive your team with their metrics. Instead, you ensure that the data your team closely monitors aligns clearly to your department's goals. This keeps you and your team laser-focused on exactly what you need to achieve.

Where are you in your leadership reformation journey?

Count up how many of the leadership qualities from the list above described you and check the scale below to see where you fall in the Leadership Reformation journey.

    • If you have:
        • nine or more leadership qualities listed above, then you are at the forefront of the Leadership Reformation that is occurring! You are a part of the solution and you are helping to reframe what good leadership looks like.


        • five to eight of the leadership qualities, then you are well on your way to reforming your own leadership and are likely a positive reformational influence to other leaders around you.


        • one to four of the leadership qualities, you have begun your work to reform your leadership practices because you realize that your job as a leader is essential to the positive impact of your team.


        • none - don't despair, join the Leadership Reformation blog update list and you'll be stomping on the status quo in no time!




The potential impact of a positive leader is immeasurable. Be the leader who understands and supports the team, ensures barriers are removed and provides all necessary tools.

Your challenge as the leader is to continually work to grow your own leadership qualities to make sure you are keeping pace with the needs of your team and your organization.

If you do not invest in yourself, then instead of strengthening the power of your influence on your team, your growth will be stunted and your team's performance will suffer.

Continual improvement fuels greatness - every day provides a new opportunity to serve as an even better leader than you were yesterday!

Embrace the challenge, be a leader who daily reforms your practice for constant improvement. You'll love your work even more and your team will thrive.

Where did you land on the leadership qualities list? Share your added insight on the qualities needed for exceptional leadership in today's world on social media and help others be better leaders!

All Access Pass
Breakthrough Leadership Strategies

Are you ready to be a leader who makes a positive difference? Get started with our online leadership program and resources.

How Can I Help?