The style of leadership plays an important role in preventing burnout

The importance of people-oriented leadership is becoming increasingly evident for many organizations.

The chance of severe burn-out symptoms is only 1% with leaders who have a people-oriented, supportive leadership style. On the other hand, it is 38% for employees under leaders who are very controlling and do not offer structure and vision. This is according to a study by HR services company Securex and Prof. Dr. Anja Van den Broeck of KU Leuven. The study further shows that supportive leadership ensures that the most important psychological basic needs are met: Autonomy, Connectedness, and Competence/Mastery. This is in line with the findings of several recent studies, which consistently indicate that leaders need to be more authentic, people-oriented, and talent-oriented.


Line managers have much of the day-to-day responsibility for managing employees’ health and wellbeing. However, surveys consistently show that “poor management style” is a significant cause of work-related stress. In our 2022 survey on health and wellbeing at work, approximately a quarter (26%) of respondents blamed their management style for work-related stress.

Managers are important role models for promoting healthy behavior at work, and this finding shows how damaging the impact can be if managers are not equipped with the competence and confidence to perform their role properly. Source: CIPD

Positive leaders focus on enabling the best of the human condition and creating exceptionally positive outcomes. Human energy, motivation, and engagement make the difference, not rules and procedures, processes, and systems.


Leadership development is essential. The good news is that leadership is developable, and many organizations are investing more time and money in leadership development. However, the bad news is that the investment in leadership development does not always produce the desired results. 

‘The true challenge for leadership development lies in creating sustainable and feasible ways of developing leaders in a personalized way, accommodating variations of style and individual strengths profiles. To do that, organizations need to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach that tries to create all-rounders, and help new leaders understand that leadership is primarily a stretch assignment, far more demanding than they had anticipated.

You can teach key concepts to aspiring leaders, such as the concept that employee engagement drives business results; or the concept that focusing on strengths leads to more positive and ultimately more productive workplaces – but each individual leader must turn each concept into a practice, through a set of behaviours and techniques that feel authentic to them, that fit their strengths. Ultimately, each leader leads differently´ – StrengthscopeLeader


In our rapidly changing world, it is necessary for leaders to adapt their leadership style to the needs of their employees. The traditional model no longer works, and there is a growing need for a human-centered, supportive, and talent-focused approach to leadership.

People want to feel connected to the organization they work for, but it still happens too often that the vision, mission, values, and goals of the organization are not clear. By genuinely involving employees – instead of rolling it out top-down – they will feel more genuinely responsible for the company’s results.

A human-centered, talent-focused approach means that leaders take into account the different needs, personalities, and qualities of their employees. As today’s work environment changes, so must leadership.

People do not want to be measured against the same yardstick.

As a leader or HR professional, it is essential to look at the different needs and unique qualities and take them into account.

Too often, we still use a one-size-fits-all model. According to research by Gartner, “a person-focused experience: 82% of employees say it is important for their organization to see them as a person, not just as an employee. The human-to-human dynamics in the workplace force leaders to show human-centered leadership, defined as leading with authenticity, empathy, and adaptability. These qualities have been cited for some time as one of the most important qualities of great leaders.”


“In organizations, we try to achieve one style and attitude through culture and in-company training programs. In fact, you are asking people to let go of their authenticity and step into a mold. But you want people to dare to be themselves at work, each contributing in their uniqueness to collaboration and results. You want colleagues to feel free to give their own opinions and insights, which leads to innovation and creative solutions. Leadership is then ensuring that there is the right, safe environment where diversity can flourish. And a good boss just stays Johan, stays as you are, hold on to your norms and values.” Management Site, Innovative Leadership, Johan van den Elzen, former CEO of Movares

“One immediate result of Covid was an increased focus on human leadership – the skills that help to support and energize teams. At Coca-Cola, we’ve seen a move away from ‘corporate speak’ to a more authentic style of leadership” – (Audrey Clegg, group talent director at Coca-Cola)


A strengths-based approach to leadership is based on the authenticity, uniqueness, and strength of both the leader and employees. It involves, among other things, leaders focusing on the strengths of their employees and helping them to further develop them. This is an essential aspect of good leadership because it enables employees to thrive and fulfill their full potential. Of course, this approach is also results-oriented, leading to increased productivity and better performance. A win-win situation for people and the organization.

It helps to create a positive, safe, and productive work environment where people feel appreciated, heard, and seen. It also promotes innovation, collaboration, and the development of new ideas and solutions, which is important in our rapidly changing world. Research has shown that 92% of employees perform well under a positive leadership style, while this figure drops to 51% under a leader with a poor leadership style.


Leaders and team managers can serve as positive role models and demonstrate that the organization can only thrive if employees use their talents. Based on my experience in practice, I see that there are still many opportunities for HR professionals, also to become more powerful and have more impact. This can be achieved by first working on personal and professional development, and by better collaborating with leaders (CEOs, MTs, team leaders).

Especially in today’s world, where attracting, retaining, developing talent, and keeping employees healthy are crucial, it is useful for HR professionals and managers to collaborate more frequently and effectively.

According to Gartner research, HR’s top priority is leader and manager effectiveness. Gartner identifies “CEO Talent Champions” as executives of organizations that have publicly demonstrated a commitment to talent outcomes. The importance of talent for organizations is also highlighted in HR Leaders Monthly (February 2023), and the importance of collaboration between CEOs and CHROs: “With so many critical talent issues to address, there’s no better time than right now to strengthen the CHRO-CEO partnership.”

Effective talent management strategies involve identifying and nurturing employee strengths, providing ongoing training and development opportunities, and creating a culture that fosters creativity, innovation, and collaboration. 

As an HR professional (whether you are a CHRO, HR Manager, or Advisor), you play a crucial role in leadership and talent development. You want to maximize potential in your organization and have leaders in your organization that you can trust and rely on. You can also be a valuable partner for managers who want to focus on strengths-based leadership (authentic, positive, people-focused, and talent-focused leadership).

I am very interested in knowing which themes and development areas are most important to you and your organization right now. If you would like to discuss this with me or if I can assist you in any way, please let me know.

By focusing on strengths, leaders can create a more motivated, productive and engaged team. Utilizing these eleven tips can help you as a leader or manager to cultivate a strengths-based approach to leadership.

Unlock your potential, focus on what you do best and drive better results, with my business driven, people centric, strengths focused services.

About The Author

Kitty Schaap

CoAchieve | Versterk leiderschap en talent vanuit een Strengths-based aanpak. Voor leidinggevenden, HR-professionals, organisaties.

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