Balancing Competence & Warmth in Leadership

In the modern business world, competence-driven leaders are often praised for their ability to achieve results and meet Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The relentless pursuit of excellence and success is undoubtedly crucial in competitive landscapes. However, focusing solely on KPIs can be detrimental to the overall health and effectiveness of an organisation. This is where the warmth aspect of leadership becomes extremely critical, which is often undervalued and overlooked. In this post, I am writing about the importance of incorporating warmth into your leadership style and why it should not be discounted in favour of solely focusing on competence and KPIs.


Two Dimensions of Leadership: Competence and Warmth

Leadership is a multifaceted concept, and research has shown that two key dimensions play a significant role in how leaders are perceived – competence and warmth. Competence refers to a leader’s ability to get things done, make informed decisions, and achieve goals. Warmth, on the other hand, refers to the personal qualities that make a leader approachable, empathetic, and compassionate.

Both dimensions are essential for effective leadership. A competence-driven leader who lacks warmth may achieve short-term results, but their leadership style can lead to high employee turnover, low morale, and a toxic work environment. In contrast, a leader who is warm but lacks competence can create an enjoyable work environment but may fail to meet organisational goals and objectives.


Why Competence-Driven Leaders Should Not Discount Warmth

Focusing solely on KPIs and competence can lead to several negative consequences. Some of the reasons why competence-driven leaders should not discount warmth include:

1. Employee Engagement and Retention

When leaders prioritise KPIs and competence above all else, employees may feel undervalued, ignored, and unappreciated. This lack of warmth can lead to disengagement and a decrease in job satisfaction. As a result, organizations may experience higher employee turnover rates and struggle to retain top talent. In contrast, leaders who demonstrate warmth and genuine care for their employees are more likely to foster strong relationships, boost morale, and promote employee engagement and retention.

2. Collaboration and Teamwork

Warm, approachable leaders create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and opinions. This open line of communication is essential for effective collaboration and teamwork. Conversely, leaders who focus solely on KPIs and competence may create a culture where employees are afraid to speak up or share their ideas, stifling creativity and innovation.

3. Long-Term Success

While short-term KPIs are important, leaders must also consider the long-term health and success of their organisation. This requires a balance of competence and warmth in leadership. By demonstrating warmth and empathy, leaders can build a strong, motivated team that is committed to the organisation’s long-term success.


Fostering Warmth in Leadership

Here are some practical tips for leaders who want to foster warmth in their leadership style:

  • Understand your team: Take out 2 mins at the start of your 1:1s to understand your team members life.
  • Map their goals: Understand what step of their work journey they are, and help them map their goals to their day-to-day job.
  • Listen actively: Make an effort to truly listen and understand the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of your employees.
  • Show empathy: Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and try to understand their perspectives, demonstrating genuine care for their well-being.
  • Be approachable: Create an open-door policy and encourage employees to come to you with their ideas, concerns, and feedback.
  • Offer support and guidance: Help employees navigate challenges and provide the resources and support they need to be successful.

While competence and KPI-driven leadership are essential for achieving results, leaders must not discount the importance of warmth in their leadership style. By balancing both dimensions of leadership, organisations can promote employee engagement, foster collaboration, and achieve long-term success.