As a leader, would you rather be the epitome of strength and competence or warmth and sympathy? Traditional thought says if you can’t be both, it’s better to be feared than loved. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger challenges this notion.
As it turns out, warmth affects others’ assessment of us more than strength and competence. The article notes that though people will value competence related skills in themselves, they will value warmth-related skills in others.
“Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you. If you show your employees that you hold roughly the same worldview they do, you demonstrate not only empathy but, in their eyes, common sense—the ultimate qualification for being listened to.”
Of course, it’s best to be both: loved and feared, warm and strong. The article goes through a few techniques to help project both.
The article is a teaser for Matt Kohut’s and John Neffiner’s upcoming book, ‘Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential’. Warmth and strength are the two primary criteria by which we judge each other. The book examines the practical applications of this idea, look for it this fall.
Photo by Jon Coyne