How Do Leaders Want Others to See Them?

By | June 15, 2020

[June 15, 2020]  Leaders have an ideal painted in their minds about how they want others to see them.  More than anything else, they don’t want people to see them as a failure.  More specifically, how do leaders want to be seen?

There is no simple answer.  With the many types of leaders and combined with personality, level of social skills, missions, and environment, what leaders are looking for varies.  However, I do believe there is some common ground.  A few leader ideals come immediately to mind.  There are always exceptions.

Leaders are those people who others trust to influence and guide them.  With that in mind, here is my list regarding how leaders want others to see them:

  1. Technically proficient. No real leader wants a reputation as a dunderhead.  Enough idiots are masquerading as leaders who make a mess of things.  If you don’t know how your business works, you cannot lead very well.1
  2. Fair and Trustworthy. Leaders who treat everyone the same, adhering to the same rules, enforcing equal standards, and giving the same chances to all are highly valued in the best leaders.  Only through this can one be viewed as trustworthy and reliable.
  3. They are caring for their followers. Caring means that a good leader goes out of his way to ensure everyone has the resources, guidance, and understanding to get their job done.  A great leader is also one who works hard to ensure everyone is a success.
  4. Smart, Creative, Inspirational, and Resourceful. We’ve all seen leaders fail and fail terribly.  The main reasons often fall into this category.  They lack the spirit, creativity, inspiration, and resourcefulness necessary to get the job accomplished with the least costs.
  5. Decisive and Bold. No one wants others to view them as a “wimp” (a derogatory label).  Everyone values strength, passion, aggressiveness, and the ability to make bold, quick, decisive decisions.
  6. Problem solver and delivers results. If you can’t solve problems or get the job done, no matter how much people love you as a leader, then you are not a leader.    Every leader wants to have a reputation as accomplishing tasks before them rapidly and quickly.
  7. Speaks the truth. No one likes a liar.  Nothing says you cannot be trusted or relied upon when you cannot tell the truth.  No one will know where you stand.
  8. Professional.  Professionalism is a catch-all concept that means many different things.  For most of us, it means the leaders should be seen as staying above politics, stays out of no-win squabbles, conducts themselves morally and with integrity, and has a positive attitude.

Well, that’s my list.  Many leaders I’ve known work hard to create the image that has of themselves, and this list covers most of what they want others to see.  Why?  They want to be successful in their job, personal life, and friendships.2


  2. Yes, there are a few, mostly narcissists, who don’t care and will not waste their energy worrying about how others see them.
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “How Do Leaders Want Others to See Them?

  1. Yusaf from Texas

    Hey, great article and thanks to Gen. Satterfield and to those in the forums who have piled on to reinforce the main theme. I too wondered what leaders are looking for and this list is certainly a good start. More articles like this are what I look forward to on this website.

  2. Randy Goodman

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for an on-target article. Very timely, indeed.

  3. Doc Blackshear

    I found this article by Gen. Satterfield especially timely and worthy of praise. It is timely because we can look out across the political landscape and see Governors and City Mayors struggling both with a response to the COVID19 virus and with riots, looting, violence that has unexpectedly hit our nation. Many want to be seen as being responsible and compliant to the demands of their citizens. Look at the outcomes, however, and we will see which did a good job and which failed.

    1. Stacey Borden

      Yes, very interesting. New York, Michigan, Illinois, are three of the states that did a terrible job on both of these. Yet, their govn’rs will be reelected with great margins. They have wonderful PR (cough, cough, I mean propaganda).

    1. Scotty Bush

      Right! Here is the key quote:
      Here is what ‘taking care of people’ really means. It means providing:
      – Opportunities (actually, providing circumstances where people can find opportunities)
      – The right conditions (a positive and risk-controlled environment)
      – Training resources
      – Teaching, coaching, and mentoring
      – Protection (having their back)
      – Administrative support
      – Instilling core values (their meaning and significance)

    2. Kenny Foster

      One of the advantages of this website is the ability to search for related articles. Certainly, this is one of them but there are many. I wish there was some way to create linkages that were easier to follow than just ‘searching’ for them. That way we could better understand where Gen. Satterfield is coming from.

      1. Linux Man

        Good suggestion but I’m not so sure his website has the technical capability.

      2. Nick Lighthouse

        It could certainly be improved in this aspect. How do I look across to get a better view of the many articles?

  4. Gil Johnson

    Too many times, I’ve witnessed really good leaders who were, at a critical time, indecisive. They somehow lacked the ability to make a decision when a decision was necessary. Sometimes the only wrong decision was no decision. Better that an 80% solution is implemented quickly than a 100% solution in the unknown future that never arrives. Making bold decisions may not be as important so I will disagree here. Decisiveness is what really matters most.

    1. Deplorable John

      Be bold or be gone! Ha Ha Ha. ….. Gil, you are right, decisiveness is the most important of all. IMO, it will always be.

  5. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, another exceptional article. Thanks for the list. More insight into senior leaders too.

  6. Lady Hawk

    I also have been involved in thinking about how leaders want to be viewed by others. More than anything else, I believe they want to be seen as FAIR. Being fair as well as balanced in their leadership is what makes them respected. It matters not that they are hard on everyone but that exactly that they are hard on everyone equally and give each a fair shake.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Truer words have never been written. Well done, Lady Hawk, your observation into the dynamics of leaders is spot on.

      1. Shawn C. Stolarz

        Good point, Lady Hawk. Fair is the main way all the leaders I’ve ever known, want to be seen by others. If you are fair, then they will tolerate a lot.

  7. Max Foster

    I’ll propose that Number 1 is “technically” and “tactically” proficient. Not strategic, how they want to be seen but should be, but tactically also because it appeals to the lowest common denominator of a follower.

    1. Army Captain

      Yes, and I do believe that Gen. Satterfield linked to an earlier article of his that says exactly what you suggested. However, most of those who work for a boss (leader) are more concerned about the technical aspects of their knowledge rather than their tactical knowledge. Why? I don’t know.

    2. Ed Berkmeister

      Good suggestion, Max. Once again, you’ve nailed it.

      1. Scott Matthews

        Yes, he always manages to get to the heart of the article on this website. I too like to suggest alternative interpretations but Max is on top of the mainstream ideas presented by Gen. Satterfield.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.