Herb Kimble on Consequences of Submissive Leadership

It takes more than a simple desire to lead effectively. In fact, many traits of great leaders are the result of study, refinement, and practice through implementation. While leaders are each unique in terms of their personality and management style, we at Herb Kimble believe that one style of leadership in particular, that of submissive leadership, can be detrimental to your business and overall success. A submissive leader can be defined as an individual who prefers to avoid conflict and typically agrees with presented ideas or requests. While it may seem like this leadership style fosters harmonious relations in the workplace, a submissive demeanor can merit unintended results. Consider the following consequences of submissive leadership to understand why taking a more dominant approach to leading others can guarantee success.

Poor Reputation

Studies show that submissive leaders are more likely attributed negative characteristics by those they supervise. Such perceived qualities can include weakness, tepidness, indifference to concerns or problems, indecisiveness, and compliance, among others. Whether or not you truly possess these characteristics is beside the point. If you lack the ability to demonstrate otherwise, your ability to win the confidence of your employees (and in turn manage a productive team) will diminish.

Lack of Respect

People universally respect a leader more for what they can accomplish than the extent to which they sympathize with popular views or avoid stirring the proverbial pot. Thus, many submissive leaders face a lack of respect among those they lead for exactly this reason. Without the initiative and attitude to back their claims, no matter how friendly, the submissive leader will be viewed as inherently less effective than a more assertive leader. Respect at all levels is crucial for a cohesive and motivated business.


As a manager, CEO, supervisor, or any leader in or out of the office, your job is to lead individuals to meet specific goals. For the submissive leader, in an ideal world this would mean complete cooperation free of any obstacles. However, at Herb Kimble we understand that the reality of leadership inevitably involves confrontation and challenges. Your effectiveness as a leader is inherently diminished if you refuse to acknowledge problems, work through them, and make efforts to improve. Even something as simple as committing to enforcing your workplace rules consistently can improve effectiveness.


Limited Personal Growth

When it comes to promotions, submissive leaders are more easily overlooked as a result of their tendency to avoid speaking up, advocating for themselves, or more visibly demonstrating their leadership. This can lead to disappointing stagnation in a career, as well as a disheartened attitude in the face of missed opportunities. What’s more, regardless of titles and promotions, by continuing to act as a submissive leader, rather than an assertive leader, an individual limits the growth of important personal skills like conflict resolution or effectively arguing for an initiative they support.

To become a more effective leader, reflect on the submissive behaviors you demonstrate and work to lead assertively. For more, visit us at Herb Kimble for leadership principles and strategies that can work for you.



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