The “Results Driven Leader” Needs to Die

Not an actual person…but the phrase on resumes and LinkedIn profiles. It should never — ever — be used again.

Here’s why:

Raise your hand if you aren’t a results driven leader.

That’s what I asked a room full of lawyers during the “Career Transitions” panel on which I served at the Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week.

Not a single attendee raised their hand. Not one.

Every one of the 100 people in the room identified themselves as a “results driven leader.” The same was true for “effective communicator,” “team player,” etc.

These are wasted words of little value. They are the beige paint of resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

Using these phrases is the equivalent of saying “I am just like every other candidate whose resume you are reading.” But you aren’t just like every other candidate!

You, Snowflake, are uniquely qualified and have your own story to tell. That’s why you’re throwing your hat in the ring in the first place, right? So telling your story becomes far more important than fitting a mold. In fact, fitting a mold is the last thing you want.

Job postings and the application process are increasingly online, automated, and easy, resulting in hundreds — sometimes thousands — of applicants for a single position.

Computers and software are regularly doing the first round of reviews, seeking out key words. And when they aren’t, tired human eyes are scanning submissions looking for compelling applicants who stand out in all the right ways.

Words matter.

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But mind numbingly vast numbers of resumes still prominently feature empty phrases of little value.

How did we get here?


We all find comfort and reassurance using the “good form” of a friend or colleague we respect, or one that Google provides. Totally makes sense. And forms can be an incredibly effective tool…as a starting point.

But when we use forms we run the risk of conformity. That is when phrases that sound good but ultimately mean nothing overstay their welcome.

So the world, and too many applicant pools, become filled with results driven leaders who words words words…huh, what, wait….sorry, I fell asleep.

The order of the day is to stand out. Not with gimmicks, but with deliberately and carefully crafted substance. Gimmicks are easy (and risky). Substance is hard work…like great jobs and careers!

Of course, I appreciate that it is all easier said than done. I (still) struggle with it too. So here’s the starting point I offered (which was previously offered to me) to begin the process of standing out in the right ways.

What is uniquely yours to give? Spend time determining what specific qualifications and experiences make you uniquely qualified. Start there.
Own your space! Once you have identified what makes you uniquely qualified and compelling, own that space. Don’t be shy about sharing how and why you stand out from the crowd.

In an increasingly crowded, automated, and competitive job marketplace, the advantage belongs to the candidates who are uniquely qualified, own their space, and stand out from the crowd with clarity, purpose, and precision. The “results driven leader” needs to die.