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The 5 levels of leadership

REUTERS/Thomas Peter
What kind of a leader are you?
  • Michael C. Bush
By Michael C. Bush

CEO, Great Place to Work

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

As Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, once astutely noted, “Employees everywhere don’t necessarily hate the company or organization they work for as much as they do their boss. Employees—especially the stars—join a company and then quit their manager.”

But what makes a boss worth quitting over? Or, on the flip side, worth staying over? To understand what makes a great leader, we looked at data from 75,000 employees and more than 10,000 managers working primarily in the U.S., across industries including retail, hospitality, manufacturing, technology, finance, and health care. We reviewed employees’ ratings of their workplaces as well as their open-ended comments about their managers and looked for patterns and traits distinguishing great leaders from the not-so-great.

Based on those employee evaluations and comments, we identified five distinct leadership levels, which we’ve characterized into personas based on prominent themes.

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