The Seven Judgements All Leaders Face

You may not like it, but you’re being judged all the time.

Get used to it.

Understand it.

connection before competence

Understand how people judge you, if you expect to succeed.

7 judgments all leaders face:

  1. Do you care about me? (Kindness)
  2. Do you seek the best interest of others and our organization? (Servanthood)
  3. Can I trust you? (Character/Honesty)
  4. Do you connect? (Friendliness)
  5. Can you deliver what you promise? (Power)
  6. Can you lead? (Skillfulness)
  7. Do you comprehend challenges and opportunities. (Intelligence)

The seven judgements distill into two essential qualities, warmth and competence.

Choose to be liked.

Warmth comes before competence when being judged as a leader. Don’t rely on competence as your exclusive leadership calling card. Soft qualities come before tough.

Work first to connect then demonstrate competence.

Competent, but cold leaders, invite pity; warm without competence, ambivalence.*

Warmth and nonverbals:

  1. Smile. Polite smiles aren’t enough. Warm smiles create wrinkles around your eyes, crow’s feet. The sad truth is, the higher you go in an organization, the less you smile. Don’t be too important to smile.
  2. Lean in.
  3. Nod.
  4. Raise your eyebrows.
  5. Turn toward people but don’t move into their space.
  6. Mirror. When people smile at you, smile back, for example.

Competence and nonverbals:

  1. Shake hands firmly and establish eye contact.
  2. Don’t touch yourself or wring your hands.
  3. Walk with purpose.
  4. Stand still.
  5. Stand with your feet apart.
  6. Take up space.

Why nonverbals matter:

People make decisions about your inner-being by watching your outer. It may seem shallow, but it’s still true. Be sure your external self reflects your internal, if you don’t like being misjudged.

I’m not suggestion you pretend you care when you don’t. I’m saying, if you care, tell your face.

How might leaders demonstrate warmth?

How might the soft and hard aspects of leadership be brought together?

*This post is based on, “The Dynamics of Warmth and Competence Judgments, and their Outcomes in Organizations,” by Amy J. C. Cuddy, Peter Glick, and Anna Beninger.