Owning Your Own Leadership Style

Owning Your Own Leadership Style

By: Nicole Strutt
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Have you ever identified with the leadership characteristics of Donald Trump, Ellen DeGeneres or Barack Obama? Read on to discover where your leadership style falls in regards to these three influential people.

Effective Leadership

When you think of the varying types of effective leadership styles, what would you say works the best? To some people like Donald Trump, leadership is about leading through competence, intelligence, skill and power paying more attention to the results rather than the people involved. While some people believe that a leader is someone more like Ellen DeGeneres who is warm, friendly, trustworthy, kind and empathetic who believes that paying attention to building relationships and encouraging discussion and collaboration of opinions is the way to go (2011). However, no matter whether you fit into either the “warmth” or the “competence” leadership group, having the ability to be a little of both is important to be effective in everything you do. Let me explain through a personal leadership experience that I have encountered.

AIESEC National Leadership Developmental Conference 2014

In the past week I have learned a lot about what it means to be a leader through attending a leadership conference put on by the international student run organization AIESEC. The conference took place in Guelph, Ontario where over 300 delegates attended across Canada from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. One of the most beneficial pieces of information that I got out of the conference was through a leadership workshop that I attended that discussed Amy J.C. Cuddya, Peter Glickb and Anna Beninger’s (2011) model of “warmthand “competence” leadership.

Without getting too academic, the main idea of “warmth” and “competence” (2011) leadership is like I discussed in the opening paragraph. "Warmth" leadership is defined as someone who has “warm characteristics” like being friendly, trustworthy kind and empathetic. Whereas having more of a "competence" leadership style would be having characteristics like intelligence, skill and power.

Importance of Warmth and Strength

The most valuable information that I received from the leadership style session is the idea that in order to be a successful leader it is important to have a balance of both "warmth" and "competence" (2011). Take the great politicians of the world like Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton both are well educated people who would be characterized as people with competence, intelligence, skill and power; however they balance that strength with a compassion that draws people to them and have an undeniable connection.


Bringing "warmth" and "competence" back to the student perspective, I found reflecting on my own leadership style based on the "warmth" and "competence" model helped me become more aware of what kind of style I had as a leader and how to further grow those valuable characteristics. In the article by Amy J.C. Cuddya, Peter Glickb and Anna Beninger (2011), they discuss how in addition reflecting on what kind of leadership style that I encompassed showed that there is nothing wrong with having more of a "warm" style or a "competence" style, just that it is important to understand the importance of incorporating a little bit of both when you are leading individuals or groups.

Closing Thoughts

To conclude, I encourage you to reflect on your own leadership style and whether your characteristics would fall under the "warmth" or "competence" (2011) kind of leader or both. Based on your findings develop your natural leadership styles while incorporating what you may lack to become a full rounded leader.


Amy J.C., Cuddya, Peter Glickb & Anna Beninger (2011). The dynamics of warmth and competence judgments, and their outcomes in organizations. Science Direct, 31, 73-98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2011.10.004

*Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by Cat. Photo resized by author.

Beyond The Article

  • Become the leader you want to be here
  • Check out the academic article “The Dynamics of Warmth and Competence Judgments, and Their Outcomes in Organizations”  at the SFU library
Posted on May 16, 2014