True or False: Attitude Reflects Leadership – (The Answer)

True or False: Attitude Reflects Leadership

In the movie, Remember the Titans, there is a scene where Gerry and Julius are having an argument. When Gerry tells Julius that his attitude is the worst he’s ever seen, Julius says:

“Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” (Referring to the leadership of Gerry.)

Watch the clip here:

So is this true? Does attitude reflect leadership?

As a leader, does your team’s attitude reflect your leadership?

The answer is, in most cases, yes.

Attitude does reflect leadership. The attitude of your people, and the culture of your organization or team, reflect your leadership and that of the organization.

The attitude and culture of a company are set by the leadership.  

It all goes back to leadership. As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

How is this the case? And why is that important?

We’ll dive into it in this article.

Your team follows your lead

Your team models your behaviors and actions. They see what is acceptable by watching what you do.

If you are constantly negative, they will likely be more so. If you gossip, they will see it as okay and are more likely to do so.

If you are positive and encouraging, the team is more likely to be that way as well.

If you don’t care or support the mission, neither will your team

Whether it’s the mission or the goals of the organization or even the leaders higher up, if you don’t show support toward it or them, neither will your team.

If you aren’t all in on the goal your team is supposed to be pursuing, neither will your team.

Also Read: The Definitive Guide To Mission Statements

If your actions don’t match your words, your team will not believe you

“Do what I say, not what I do” doesn’t work with kids or in business.

You have to match your words with your actions.

If you tell your team they should espouse the values of your organization, but you don’t, or you say this or that is important but don’t show it as important to yourself, don’t expect your team to do so either.

Negativity breeds negativity

Attitude reflects leadership - Negativity breeds negativity

Negativity breeds negativity. When you are constantly negative, your team will start being more so. If you constantly complain, your team is likely to do the same as well.

You attract (and often hire) people who are like you

Generally, we attract people similar to ourselves. If you are a negative, untrustworthy person, you are likely to attract people who are similar (and drive away those who are not).

When you hire, you are also more likely to hire people that are like you. In doing so, if you have a negative disposition or are a poor leader, you are likely to hire the wrong kinds of people.

You get what you tolerate

If you tolerate negativity and gossip, people will see it as okay. If you tolerate me vs your attitudes and silos, that is what you will get.

You get what you tolerate.

The safety you provide (or the environment of fear you create)

As a leader, by your choices and actions, you create how safe people feel. Your actions determine if they are in an environment of safety or fear.

      • Does your team feel safe to speak up when they disagree? Do they feel safe revealing problems?
      • How do you respond when your team gives you feedback?
      • Does your team know and can they tell that you care about them and support them (and do you)?
      • Are you creating an environment of support and trust or a “gotcha” environment and one of control?

Does your team feel like they must look over their shoulders to protect themselves from their team, others in the organization, or leadership?

Listen to Podcast: Episode 10: Make It Safe

The trust you give

The trust you give your team can also help determine the attitude of your employees. If you don’t trust your employees, make all decisions come through you, and micromanage your team, the attitude you get will likely be different than if you showed trust, put decision-making in the hands of those closest to the problem, and gave autonomy to your team.

The level of trust you give matters.

The feedback you provide

The amount of feedback and the type you give matters.

If you never give any kind of feedback, you create an environment where employees don’t feel cared for and are more disengaged.

If the only kind of feedback you give is negative, you create an environment more of fear or where people feel that they are only acknowledged when they do wrong.

If you give both positive and constructive feedback, giving appreciation for what people do and teaching them how to do better, you create an environment where people feel more cared for and engaged.

Your priorities (how much you care about your team)

If all you do is see your people as tools or cogs in the machine, then your people’s attitudes are likely to reflect that, because they will notice.

If you put profits over people and put short-term over long-term (such as doing a lot of layoffs so you can show positive quarterly numbers), people notice, and their attitude will reflect that.

If you truly care for your team and support them, they will notice, and their attitude will reflect that as well.

How well do you listen

Attitude reflects leadership - How well do you listen

It also depends on how well you listen. If you always think you have all of the answers and never listen to your team, that will affect your employees and their engagement and responses.

If you listen well and help your team feel heard, your team will be much more likely to support you, even if the final decision is not what they wanted.

The ownership you take or the blame you give

If you are a person who always casts blame, that’s going to set a tone for your team or organization, especially if you are blaming your team.

If you always take credit, it can be similar results.

If you take responsibility and ownership and cast credit to your team, that creates a different (and better) environment and response.

The direction you give and the clarity you provide

When you do not cast clear visions or give clear expectations, that creates confusion and uncertainty. When instructions are vague or people don’t see purpose in what they do, their motivation and engagement will be lower.

If you don’t stand up for what is right, your people won’t respect you

If you don’t stand up for what is right, and do the right thing even when it’s tough, you will lose the respect of some if not all of your team.

FAQs About How Attitude Reflects Leadership

Why is attitude important in leadership?

Attitude is important in leadership because your team will reflect your attitude. If you are constantly negative and critical, your team will become more negative, and the negativity and critical attitude will impact their performance, morale, and retention.

If you have a positive and supportive attitude, your team will reflect that as well. A positive and supportive attitude will also help create more engagement with your employees and bring about higher morale and productivity (there are other factors, of course, but attitude is a big contributor).


Why attitude is important to your team’s success?

Your team’s attitude is important because your team’s attitude determines their engagement, productivity, their retention, their collaboration, and more.

This, of course, affects the company’s ability to accomplish its mission and goal as well as affects its output and revenue.


How does attitude affect team performance?

If your team is disengaged, they will be less productive. They won’t take as many risks and will be less likely to take initiative or come up with new ideas and pursue them. It will lower collaboration and the likeliness of reaching and surpassing the team’s and company’s goals.

If your team is disengaged, they are more likely just to do the bare minimum to get by.


How can leaders develop a positive attitude that inspires and motivates their team members to achieve their goals?

Care for your team. Create a safe place where mistakes, failures, disagreements, taking risks, and new ideas – all are welcome. Be a person your employees can trust and trust your employees. Provide them autonomy and purpose and opportunities for growth in their jobs and careers.

These are just a few steps you can take to create an engaged workplace.

You set the pace for your team and organization – attitude reflects leadership

I hope you see the impact you have on your team and your organization.

"The attitude of your team does reflect your leadership." ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

Your behaviors, what you do (and don’t do), what you tolerate (and don’t tolerate), the safety you provide – all of it sets the engagement and attitude of your team.

Yes, people do have their own choices. No, you don’t control them as robots. But, as a leader, you do have great influence, whether you like it or not.

I hope this helps!

If you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, disagreements, or anything we missed, please let us know in the comments below.

You can find more related articles here.

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