Leading the Charge: What Do Canadian Workers Look For in Their Leaders

Survey Reveals the Attributes CFOs and Workers Value Most

Toronto, ON – When it comes to the people who lead them, Canadian professionals place a greater emphasis on personal qualities than a hard-driving business edge, recent research from Robert Half Management Resources found. More than three in five (65 per cent) cited integrity as a top attribute of corporate leaders, while just 9 per cent considered competitiveness a primary virtue.

This feeling is consistent with the C-suite. Sixty-eight per cent of CFOs reported integrity as a top trait of corporate leaders, compared to 28 per cent who said competitiveness.

Though the opinions were generally consistent, the surveys revealed differences by age. Workers 18-34 years old placed more emphasis on a collaborative mindset than any other age group, whereas those ages 55 and older were more likely to look for fairness in leaders.

Workers and CFOs were asked, “Which of these are the most important attributes in a corporate leader?” Their responses*:












Strategic mindset









Collaborative mindset






* Up to three responses permitted

“As workers from the staff level to the executive level agree on the characteristics of a great leader, those at the top of their organizations must develop and exhibit their dedication to these shared values,” said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources. “Establishing these principles at an executive level creates a culture of trust amongst teams, and promotes a more collaborative approach to reaching common goals.”

Additional findings from the research include:

  • Fifty-four per cent of workers 55 and older reported fairness was a top-three attribute for corporate leaders, compared with 42 per cent of those 18-34.
  • The percentage of the youngest respondents prioritizing a collaborative mindset (40 per cent) doubled that of their counterparts 55 and older (20 per cent).
  • While all groups ranked integrity as the top trait, respondents ages 35 to 54 valued it the most (72 per cent).
  • Finance executives at smaller companies were more likely to prioritize fairness than those at the largest firms.

Robert Half Management Resources offers three takeaways managers can act on immediately:

  • Set the right example. In addition to modeling appropriate behaviour, address performance issues quickly, which will show you do not let problems fester.
  • Be upfront with employees. If there is news or a major change, give employees as much information as possible, as soon as possible. Otherwise, rumours spread. If you don’t have all the answers, say so, and then try to find them.
  • Advocate for your team. Maintain open lines of communication with staff, and stand up for them in difficult situations. Look for opportunities to help them advance their career and showcase their accomplishments to other executives in your company.

About the Research

The surveys were developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by independent research firms. The CFO survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in Canada. The survey of workers includes responses from more than 400 Canadian professionals age 18 or over and employed in office environments.

About Robert Half Management Resources
Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers assistance to business leaders and consultants at roberthalf.ca/management-resources. Follow us at roberthalf.ca/blog and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]