A new report highlights what employees believe are the most important traits for their leaders to encompass, especially during COVID-19.

According to a new report by Advanced, a software and services company, COVID-19 has strongly influenced the attributes that employees look for in their leaders.

The trait that was classed as most important, with almost half (46 per cent) voting for this, was the ability to ensure all employees were equipped with the digital tools needed to complete their jobs productively. In comparison to previous reports, this trait has moved up the priority list for employees, showing the impact of COVID-19 on organisations and the importance of technology for employees in a world of remote working.

Following this, 43 per cent of employees claimed the most important trait for leaders to exhibit is the ability to take strong leadership in a crisis. Around four in 10 (41 per cent) stated it was important for their leaders to have a clear vision and strategy amid economic uncertainty.

Conversely, the least important attribute according to the employees surveyed (25 per cent) was their boss’ ability to support the wellbeing of their employees. The report warns that “business survival could be to the detriment of employee wellbeing”, especially considering four out of five employees stated COVID-19 had a negative effect on their mental health.

A pivotal area that employees have identified needs improvement within their organisations is technology. Over six in 10 (63 per cent) have stated that the pandemic has demonstrated the need to enable greater flexibility in the workplace. A similar number (65 per cent) are keen to adopt or discover new technology for their company with a massive 98 per cent of employees believing that technology will play a major role in global economic recovery.

Despite this, over eight in 10 employees (82 per cent) state their belief in the leadership of their company to bounce back from a crisis, a particularly relevant insight considering the effects of the pandemic.

Matthew Fell, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Chief UK Policy Director, said: 

With trust in business now more crucial than ever, it’s great to see most employees saying they feel confident their company’s leadership can bounce back from a crisis. The spirit of support, empathy and collaboration which have emerged during this period are invaluable to firms and individuals alike.

The isolation, anxiety and financial hardship caused by COVID-19 have been a blow for so many. Employee wellbeing has long been a top priority for business, so workplace leaders will do everything they can to continue showing up for their staff. Providing mental health services and encouraging a healthy work-life balance are just a couple of ways every firm can step up to the plate.

Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, said:

Our research shows a shift in leadership style emerging as a direct result of Covid-19 which, overall, has been positive for organisations and their workforces.

Leaders are now perceived as more human than ever before by employees. As role models, it’s critical for CEOs and managing directors to set the right tone and apply high levels of emotional intelligence within their workforce.

What’s more, collaborative technology tools have enabled leaders to become more accessible and, as a result, staff have seen a more communicative and more empathetic approach which, as workers continue to work remotely and in isolation, is critical.


*This research was taken from Advanced Trends Report 2020-21 which was carried out by Research Without Barriers between 30th September and 6th October 2020. This sample included 1,007 senior decision makers working in companies with over 100 employees.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.