I joined a startup a few years ago as the head of marketing. Our CEO was a loud, charismatic, larger-than-life type of person. He has the ability to see huge potential and the presentation skills to motivate others to follow him.

When he left the company, our board promoted me into the CEO position.

My leadership style is very different. I am a much quieter person. I try to be very collaborative and to work with department heads to develop their own vision and goals. I try to build consensus on as many issues as possible rather than pushing my own vision.

The company is doing well and the board is happy with my work.

I recently received feedback from one of my department heads. He feels that the company lacks strong leadership, specifically a ‘father figure’, and it is as if the company is run like a democracy. He thinks that I act as if I am ‘embarrassed’ to be in charge.

I’d love feedback from the community - Have you ever had this type of feedback before? Have you ever felt this way about your own manager?

Camby's picture

i wouldn't totally dismiss what he said. You might wanna examine if there's been instances where you may have been so welcoming of ideas from others that it hurt productivity. but, given what you've said, i think it's pretty safe to say what he said about you doesn't matter.

the production is there. the board is happy. so why does this guy gotta poke and prod? what's it to him?

there's a reason you don't give feedback to your boss. you're accountable for his performance in a way that he is not accountable for yours.

don't feel you need to be someone your not. if you force a personality, that's even worse.

stenya's picture
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Just to add on to Camby's comment, it seems like the department head has a more "high D" style like the former CEO, and doesn't recognize that strong leadership doesn't have to be big and loud. You're obviously getting results with your own behavioral style - the board recognized it with this promotion and their ongoing support. 

I'd be curious to know what, specifically, made him think that you're "embarrassed to be in charge." Did he mention any particular words or gestures that you used, or did he just give this opinion? If there were specific behaviors that led to his conclusion, it's worth thinking about. If not, just keep on the path you've mowed.

And congratulations on your promotion!







DR_1967's picture


Did you request this feedback from your department head?  If so, you should consider it.  If not, be wary that he may have motives in addition to helping the company.

Unsolicited feedback in situations like this is typically for the sender, not the receiver.


ChrisH__'s picture

Thanks guys.

I've told my managers in the past that I welcome any feedback that they can give me and, in this case, the manager asked if they could give me feedback, so I listened.

I think the difference that he feels is the 'presence' of a much louder, outgoing leader. When people can 'hear' the boss walking across the office floor there is usually a bit of action, even subconsciously - people straighten their ties, neaten up their desk etc. The manager perceives that as respect for the leader.

naraa's picture
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 CHM5X5, I was told once by an employee once I was too soft, I acted too much as a mother figure for my directs.  (I guess specially women have not choice, either you are too motherly or you are called the B word!)  I am a high D, high I, so I guess I should take that as a compliment.  Maybe I was less of a high D then....  

I did start observing though what behaviors I had that could have led him to that perception.  In the end I think it helped me.  I was a new manager then, and the transition from doing the work to delegating and assigning work to others naturally takes time, I have found.  I asked myself in what way am I being too mother like to my directs.  I figure it out I wasn't fully comfortable and assertive in delegating work additional to their normal project work, work related to internal improvements we were working on.  Just as a mother, I was taking the biggest share of that work myself!  And I wasn't comfortable with making them accountable.  

So I couldn't become a father figure, or an authoritarian figure, which wasn't my style.  But I think the slight changes I made, helped.  At least it helped me.

So my suggestion to you is observe your actions and honestly ask yourself: "Am I embarrassed?  or what behaviors am I engaging that could make him draw that conclusion?  Can I be more effective while still being myself?"  It maybe a very subtle change that will make your direct feel more protected.



pucciot's picture
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This looks like a DISC issue.

Assuming that this direct has the best of intentions ...

This may simply be a well meaning person who thinks that a High D is better than a High S in leadership.

He is wrong, but, I suspect that he doesn't know DISC.


Perhaps, a good way to handle this is to try to determine this Direct's DISC profile.

I would suspect he is a High D and wants you to be more like him.

So perhaps you should be more High D --- with him.

It's what he will respond to. And what he will respect coming from you.

Learn more about DISC form the MT resources and Podcasts


Try to look over these ...

Everyday Cheat Sheet



More from MT here :


Just some food for thought.