A Cheat Sheet for Warm Leadership

A few months ago, I wrote about warm versus strong leadership.

Spoiler Alert: “Behavioral research suggests that people may comply with the demands of a leader who is not warm, but privately are less likely to feel motivated to perform well for such a person than for a leader who, for instance, validates feelings, asks about others, and uses more open gestures.”

If you suspect you need to warm up your style, I created the following cheat sheet to help. I suggest a liberal sprinkling of warmth in email, in person, and on the phone. Especially if you’re someone who shows up strong and sometimes brusque, warmth can help draw your team closer together, motivate your employees, and inspire loyalty.

Examples of cold and warm questions and comments:

Cold: Did you get the work done?
Warm: How did the work go today? What was challenging about today’s work? Is there anything I can do to help?

Cold: Why was the project late?
Warm: What happened with the project timeline? Tell me about the challenges.

Cold: I don’t agree with the decision or the direction this project is going.
Warm: I understand there was a lot of thought that went into the decision and here is another perspective to consider.

Cold: We are in a meeting right now. Can you meet at another time?
Warm: Thanks for checking in about getting together, I would like to meet with you. Let’s check our calendars and find a time that works.

Warm questions and comments about work:

How did the meeting go last week? I thought you did great in that presentation. Tell me more about how it went? How is the project going? What do you like most about your job or project?

Warm questions about life outside work:

How was your weekend? How was your spring break? Tell me about your trip? What was the best part? What is your favorite place to visit? How is your family ? What are your kids involved with?

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