I’m sure you can think of someone in your workplace that would fall into the category of a Reactive Leader.

Perhaps it’s Susan in Accounting with her negative attitude.

Peter from Marketing that is so results driven that he is oblivious to the wake of destruction (in damaged relationships) that he is leaving behind.

Or maybe it’s Bob in Operations that is more interested in following the rules than helping his team grow.

You know the type.

Or do you?

Before You Start

Before you dive into the list, I’d like you to keep an open mind.

The challenge of being a Reactive Leader is that it’s challenging to realize.

Like a fish, being oblivious to the water, it’s possible that you might not ever realize your reactive behaviour.

If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure you will identify with at least a few traits from this list.

Does this mean you’re doomed to stay a Reactive Leader for the rest of your career?

Probably not.

However, it might mean that it’s time for you to make some changes and look for ways to move from a reactive to Mindful Leader.


I hope so.

Let’s dive in.

10 Signs That You Might Be A Reactive Leader

Here are the​ 10 signs that you might be a Reactive Leader. 

1) You’ve been doing the same thing for more than three years.

If you have been doing the same thing for more than three years, you might be a Reactive Leader.

Anyone that has been in the same position for more than three years has established a comfortable routine.

Don’t confuse comfort with being lazy. It’s possible to be busy and still be in a rut.

If your job has become predictable, it might be time to shake things up.

2) You’ve lost your passion for your work.

If you have lost your passion for your work, you might be a Reactive Leader.

According to Gallup, only one in five people loves the work that they do.

No job is perfect.

There will always be parts of our jobs that we will dislike.

However, the ratio needs to lean heavily toward more positive experiences than negative.

If your job doesn’t excite you, it might be time to reconnect with your purpose.

3) You aren’t learning anything new.

If you’re not learning anything new, you might be a Reactive Leader.

Look at your career for the last six month and ask yourself if you learned anything new about yourself or your work.

Read a non-fiction book, take a course, or master a part of your current role, are all ways that you can grow and learn.

4) You’re spending more time fighting fires then doing meaningful work.

If you find that you are spending more time fighting fires then doing meaningful work, you might be a Reactive Leader.

According to “Mastering Leadership” by Rob Anderson and Bill Adams, seventy percent of leaders have a reactive mind.

Are you jumping from one emergency to the next instead of stepping up to fix the problems that are causing the fires in the first place?

Look to overcome your urgency addiction and apply the 80/20 Principle whenever possible.

5) You haven’t set your next career goal.

If you haven’t set your next career goal, you might be a Reactive Leader.

I’ve learned that we are more satisfied when we are working toward a goal then just going with the flow.

A good goal will move you to the edge of your comfort zone and beyond.

6) You suffer from emotional hijacks.

If you suffer from emotional hijacks, you might be a Reactive Leader.

  • Do you get angry and lash out at the people around you?
  • Does it stress you out when everyone is not getting along?
  • Do you get anxious and pull back when the pressure is too high?

Each of these negative emotional states is triggered by an external event.

When we allow external events to hijack us, we automatically become reactive.

Look to widen the gap between stimulus and response as a way to manage your emotional hijacks.

7) You’re not developing your inner game.

If you are not developing your inner game, you might be a Reactive Leader.

Self-awareness is the foundational measurement of leadership.

If you are avoiding doing the inner work required to break your cycle of reactive behaviour, you will never move beyond your current level.

To move from a reactive corporate zombie to a proactive mindful leader requires you to work on your inner game.

8) You are going it alone.

If you are going it alone, you might be a Reactive Leader.

Everyone needs a support system.

If you feel isolated or alone, it might be time to join a community, start a mastermind, or find a coach.

9) You haven’t discovered your superpower.

If you haven’t discovered your superpower, you might be a Reactive Leader.

Everyone has a unique combination of natural talents that can be developed into a strength.

It may take some time to discover, but the journey is worth it.

A great place to start is from assessments. You can find my favourite here.

10) Your work/life balance is out of whack.

If you work/life balance is out of whack, you might be a Reactive Leader.

To be successful, you must be able to say yes to these two questions.

Question One: At the start of each day do you jump out of bed full of energy, ready to tackle the day? Do you look forward to the work that you are about to engage? Do you look forward to adding value to others and contributing to a larger purpose?

Question Two: At the end of a busy and productive day do you look forward to going home? Do you have a supportive family and friends that you enjoy spending time? Have you created a set of routines that enable you to rest and recharge?

If you can’t say yes to both of these questions, it’s time to do some work.

What about you?

Where you surprised with how many traits of Reactive Leaders apply to you?

For those of you that are being honest, there are times when we all feel disconnected from our purpose, frustrated with our co-workers, and need to take a break and recharge.

The secret is to recognize when you’ve fallen into the rut of mediocrity.

Use this list as a reminder for yourself and know that the first step to change is awareness.

What reactive behaviour do you identify with the most? Which do you find the most challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments below, and I will be sure to respond.

The Work/Life Balance Handbook

FREE DOWNLOAD: This 24-Page PDF Includes The 7 Key Areas of Focus, The Wheel of Life Self-Assessment Tool and Over 100+ Mindful Habits

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