Striking a Balance Between Warmth and Competence in Leadership

According to researchers Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger, people ask two primary questions when assessing leaders:

What intentions does the leader have for me?

Is she capable of delivering on those intentions?

Most folks rank the “likeability” factor as primary. We identify with personality in leaders to start. But, we dig deeper.

After the general first impression, we move to a personal agenda: Does the leader care? Does she see my needs? Can the leader be trusted?

But, a likeable, friendly, caring personality loses its impact if you can’t deliver.

People need to see the competence that the leader provides: How does this leader help me to attain my goals? What does she teach? How does she add value? What is admirable?

Obviously, being likeable and helping one achieve things gives leaders the ability to build teams. But, we will tend to favor one or the other strategy as leaders.

If you’ve been promoted because of hard work and results, you may be admired for your capability but a lack of people skills will inhibit your effectiveness.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be the leader where people say, “He’s a nice guy, but…” As a leader, your ability to build the team with your skills and to add value through your insight will also matter.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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