What your employees’ desks say about you as a leader

What your employees’ desks say about you as a leader

What does your desk at work look like? Is it neat and sleek, with just a computer and maybe a potted plant for a pop of color? Does it have a more homey feel, covered in framed family photos and personal paraphernalia? Or maybe it’s kind of a mess, with stacks of papers and books surrounding your laptop.

Plenty has been written about what the state of your desk says about you—but what about what your employees’ desks say about you as a leader? Every company has its own culture, and every leader has their own style of management. Your employees take both into consideration when deciding how to keep their desks—and you might just be surprised at what you discover about yourself just by walking around the office.

Take a look at the following desk décor types, and determine which category of leader you fall into!

Clean wooden desk space with computer monitor

Tidy, austere and professional

Your employees’ desks reflect your sleek, modern aesthetic—and your eye for style and professionalism. Your focus on creating an atmosphere that puts your customers first has permeated your entire organization, and is reflected in the way your employees guard carefully against clutter and avoid anything that could alter the customer’s perception of your brand. Your close attention to both detail and the big picture makes you an effective, inspiring leader.

Cluttered desk with laptop and framed family photo

Family and friends welcome

Your team’s desks proudly showcase photos of important people in their lives, and offer visitors little glimpses into their personal lives. As their leader, the fact that you encourage these displays means you recognize that your employees aren’t just cogs in a wheel—they’re real people with families and personal lives outside work, and you value them as whole people, not just as employees. You are a caring leader who strives to make employees comfortable in their workplace, so that they can do their very best work.

Woman with hat at desk cuddling white dog

Up close and personal

Your employees’ desks are as eclectic as they are, covered in photos, plants, knick-knacks and posters. As their leader, you foster a culture of family in your organization, where everyone feels completely at home and free to deck out their desk with anything from their favorite sports team’s paraphernalia to beloved stuffed animals from their childhood. They may even have Fido under their desk, to complete the homey feel. You demand a lot from your team—intense work and long hours—but your motto is work hard, play hard. If they’re going to spend late nights in the office working to meet a deadline, you want them to feel at home while they’re there. Your team IS your family, and their amazing work reflects their respect and affection for you as their leader.

Bright partitioned office with many employees collaborating together

Free for all

Your team’s desks can’t really be characterized under a single category—some are pristine and clear, others display an assortment of items from home, and others are so covered with papers you’re not even sure there’s actually a desk under there. As the leader, you foster a sense of individuality and creativity in your employees, and that spirit shines through on their desks and in their work. You want to encourage and build up every employee’s individual strengths, so you place no restrictions on how they express themselves through their desks. Their professional growth—and the results you see in their work—can be directly attributed to your leadership style.


So which category do you fit into? Every leader has their own unique strengths, and each of these desk décor categories demonstrates a different one. Whether your own desk is sleek or sloppy, you might just find out more about yourself by looking at your team’s desks than by looking at your own.