Leadership Character Drives Employee Engagement and Effort

Depositphotos 135538578 m 2015

I recently completed a research study investigating the impact of leadership character. I’m always curious about what leads to people being motivated and engaged at work. There are certainly many reasons why a person chooses to be more effortful, but one of those reasons doesn’t have a lot of research backing it. So about two years ago I began a process of asking people.

The outcome is very interesting and although the study is preliminary in scope, it gives evidence to what I believe is the most important aspect of leadership.


A person who is living with character is behaving in ways that demonstrate honesty, respect, openness, and foster a mutually beneficial relationship with others.

Character is also one of the most important variables that influence why a person would want to engage in their work and do their best. I like to follow leaders who demonstrate character and I don’t like to cooperate with leaders who don’t. I’m betting you are the same.

Below, I have provided the press release that was published by more than 200 news outlets a couple of weeks ago. You can also read the Executive Summary of the study here.

New Study Shows Leadership Character Drives Employee Motivation and Engagement

A new study reveals the power of leadership character in organizational settings. A study led by Dr. Jason Jones and Strata Leadership, LLC, investigated the perception that employees have of their supervisor’s and their senior leadership’s level of character.

A significant positive link was found between an employee’s perception of their supervisor’s character and the effort the employee puts into his or her work. Character perception of the supervisor also affected employee motivation and engagement level.

A connection was also found linking the perception of the senior leadership team’s character to employee effort and engagement.

“When a leader brings both skill and character to their work, employees appreciate it. They are inspired to give more of themselves and engage more deeply in their work,” says, workplace psychologist and leadership consultant Dr. Jason Jones. “Leaders must continue to develop their character along with their skill to continue to be relevant and effective in today’s workplace.”

Leadership expert and best-selling author John Maxwell agrees, “Character is who we are on the inside and foundational to everything we do. What we think. What we say. Our actions.”

“We live in a world that values competence and talent, yet it’s our desire and ability to apply our skill with character behaviors that create enduring leadership strength and effectiveness,” says Strata Leadership Chief Executive Dr. Nathan Mellor.

Findings were based on employee survey responses from 31 U.S. companies representing various industries over an eighteen month period that ended in 2018.

The data gathered was independently analyzed and reported ensuring statistical integrity. The character metric, in this study, was measured by six statements that each respondent rated. Statements included: My supervisor acts consistently with the values of our organization, My supervisor stands up for what is right, and My supervisor treats everyone with respect, among others.

Character development is gaining momentum in the workplace as companies discover the importance of employing leaders who display competence and character, which foster positive culture, ethical business practices, and can boost the bottom-line.

According to Jones, “The way in which a leader chooses to lead and interact with others is under the microscope more now than ever before. People want to follow a leader who acts with character. Leading with character sparks motivation and engagement usually resulting in greater loyalty and higher performance on the job.”

Dr. Jason Jones is a workplace psychologist and recognized expert in employee motivation and engagement based in Dallas, Texas. Through his keynote speeches, writing, and consultation, he shares techniques rooted in the latest behavior and brain science that help leaders activate the best in their people.

Call (214) 810-4900 for more information