Six Leader Profiles That Reject Feedback

2018-04-13T03:29:43+00:00By |Leadership|0 Comments

When C-Suite executives get the boot, it is not because of their intelligence or lack of knowledge. Low self-awareness is usually the culprit. On the other hand, highly successful leaders are rooted in authenticity and are astute at building and leveraging their own true talent.

There are six profile characteristics[i] that prevent leaders from honestly looking at and owning up to their true talent. Leaders who have one or more of these profile characteristics regularly reject or dismiss feedback:

  1. Control Freaks

    hese high command and control leaders must be responsible for all ideas and decisions; they do not welcome others’ input or solutions. They reject feedback that could, in their minds, impact their grip on control or that can push them out of their comfort zone. (CDR scales measuring this profile are: extremely high “Prudence” on the Character Assessment and high “Perfectionist” on the Risk Assessment.)

  2. Egotists

    These leaders tend to believe themselves to be the best, smartest and brightest, play up well, and can become incensed with negative or critical feedback.   They do not want any of their short sides or problematic behaviors to be known, as this could harm their upward mobility and positive image, which is dear to them.  They do not admit mistakes or personal shortcomings. They frequently place blame on others when things go wrong. (CDR scales measuring this characteristic are: high “No Regret” on Adjustment Scale on the Character and high “Egotist” on the Risk Assessment.)

  3. Concealers

    These leaders are fearful of having others see their weaknesses or vulnerabilities, so they may push back to avoid exposure. (CDR Risk Assessment scales identifying Concealers include any of these: Worriers, False Advocates, and Cynics.  They may also have low Adjustment on the Character Assessment.)

  4. Defensive Do-Gooders

    These leaders tend to have very high “Interpersonal Sensitivity.” They are extremely kind, nurturing, supportive, and helpful – perhaps to a fault.  This individual may also lack self-criticality with high “No Regret”[ii] under Adjustment; so they tend to deflect or disregard feedback.   Added to the mix of their kind profile, they are often also “Pleasers” and “Perfectionists” under their Risk Factors. This profile pushes them to seek approval, be overly helpful, and seemingly strive to be the “good boy – good girl” persona. Critical feedback crushes them and hurts them deeply, because they wear their feelings on their sleeves and strive so hard to be perfect and inordinately helpful to others. They depend on positive endorsement from others and when they think others aren’t delighted with them, they can go into denial, severe sadness, and become even more ingratiating rather than deal constructively with the feedback.

  5. Change Resisters

    These leaders resist any new or different solutions – they clearly are steadfast against change or revealing fresh approaches that may require their situation or work to change.  So, rejecting feedback helps them to keep the status quo. (Leaders with high Prudence on the CDR Leadership Character Assessment and who have Perfectionist and Cynics Risk Factors and high Safety & Security on their Drivers & Rewards Assessment often fall into this category.)

  6. Stealth Saboteurs

    These somewhat rare profiles do not want to be found out. They work against other leaders or business objectives behind the scenes, or under the radar, to seize control with inappropriate stealth actions and behaviors. Exposure is not a viable option for them to succeed in undermining authority, leaders, or the business. They pretend to hear critical feedback because they are so charming and manipulative, meanwhile they may be seething inside with resentment, rage, and possible vengeful ambitions.  Frequently, the manager or department of the “Stealth Saboteur” may never see the damage coming until it is too late. (These types often have very charismatic CDR Leadership Character profiles {visible social strengths} and then have a dark mix of Rule Breaker, False Advocate, Egotist and Cynic on their Risk Factors.)

Leaders with a naturally occurring, high level of self-awareness are not as common as we might think. Most of us can self-describe at a reasonable level. However, there is not usually a deep understanding of one’s composite profile and of the connectedness and impact of specific behavioral predispositions. Through nearly two decades of assessment work and executive coaching, we have found that the best way for executives and leaders to quickly become self-aware of their strengths, inherent risks and motivation with unrivaled individual specificity, is through a debrief with their CDR 3-D Suite measuring leadership Character, Risks for Derailment and Drivers & Reward needs.

We have coached thousands of executives around the globe and have had only 3 or 4 executives in all that time, who after going through the self-awareness assessment and coaching, have dug in their heels and said something like:

“Well, that is who I am… and my people will just need to deal with it.”


In the end, failure to accept and address the impact of one’s risks or ineffective behaviors is a losing proposition for a leader. Every leader has true talent, strengths, gifts and needs. Every leader also has built in baggage when it comes to performance with their personal assortment of risk factors. These are one’s ineffective coping behaviors that undermine effectiveness.

Gone unchecked or allowed to run amok, Risk Factors have thrown the careers of even the most prominent executives’ off track.  Of the handful of executives we worked with who outrightly rejected the importance of paying attention to and doing something productive with their assessment results, all were eventually fired or forced out and replaced. Their decision to expect others to just deal with them as they were, did not pay off.

“One such CEO, Allen, who led a large retail organization craved constant personal updates and busy work by executives over the weekends and around the clock.   While the information he demanded was not necessary or particularly helpful to the business, he said he just wasn’t comfortable without the 24/7 updates. As his coach, I let Allen know the negative toll his behavior was taking on his team based on feedback from his executive team. He refused to deal with his obsessive need for detail and control. Despite the candid feedback and stress level he imposed, he said – he just couldn’t let go. Well, funny how things work out – the Board let him go.   We have other stories of C-Suite executives of Fortune 500 organizations who rejected similar feedback who have been ousted as well.”


Authenticity alone is not the ticket to successes. Being open and responsive to feedback and then — focusing on continued development is the key. Self-aware leaders who welcome in-depth, frank feedback are clear about their strengths – even the nuances of their greatest capabilities, and are able to leverage these. Exceptionally self-aware leaders are open about their inherent Risks, and work each day to keep those from interfering with their relationships and leadership effectiveness. They look for ways to continue to develop themselves and to grow. They share their personal development growth experiences, stories, triumphs and setbacks with their people, and regularly request feedback. They model development and inspire their staff members to develop in turn. Exceptional leaders are authentic leaders who are willing to own up to who they are and to continue to grow their true talent. In turn, they are better equipped to support the growth and performance of others with compassion, objectivity and courage.

When leaders complete their initial coaching debrief session providing them a deep appreciation and clarity around their true talent, we commonly hear: “I wish I had done this 20 years ago.”  One commented, “I feel like you unzipped my skin and looked inside of my soul.” Even the most cynical types going in to the coaching debrief, come out of the coaching session with a renewed and refreshed heightening of their self-awareness.

The reality is that many leaders work relentlessly and the majority do not take time out to refresh, renew, and take a personal inventory of their true capability, vulnerabilities, needs, and of their career and life goals. Experiencing in-depth, accurate and unvarnished coaching feedback with tools in the genre of the CDR 3-D Suite for profound self-awareness, is like a spa for the mind, work spirit, and personal ambition.

Ready to Take a Deep Dive into Self-awareness

If you or your leaders are ready to take a deep dive into self-awareness, email: or call 281-207-5740 to learn more about scheduling your confidential coaching debriefing session with your CDR 3-D Suite results. We have a global team of certified executive coaches ready to help you see yourself at a completely new level.


[i] These profiles can be measured characteristics of the CDR Leadership Character and CDR Risk Assessments, which are part of the CDR 3-D Suite referenced herein.

[ii] This is measured by scoring 100% on the “No Regret” subscale under the Adjustment scale in the CDR Leadership Character Assessment, which means a lack of self-criticality.

About the Author:

Nancy Parsons is an expert in leadership development, talent management, human resources, and assessments. She is the CEO/President of CDR Assessment Group, Inc. (CDR) that she co-founded with Kimberly (Brinkmeyer) Leveridge, Ph.D. In 1998, together they developed the break-through CDR 3-Dimensional Assessment Suite® an ideal coaching tool which has been translated to five languages for global clients. The CDR 3-D Suite measures: leadership character traits, inherent risk factors for derailment, and drivers and rewards.

Leave A Comment