In the workplace we tend to judge our colleagues, especially our leaders, by two characteristics. Likeability and authoritativeness: how likeable are they (their warmth and trustworthiness)? How much authority do they project (their strength and fearsomeness)?

While these traits provide a perception of a leader and their abilities to manage individuals and achieve goals for the organization, the question at hand is which trait is more important?

It was not too long ago that leaders led by authority with their likeability being an after-thought, however a growing trend now suggests that the way to influence begins with likeability and then blends into demonstrations of authority and competence.

So the next time you have the opportunity to lead a team, think first about leading from a place of likeability and warmth as this will facilitate trust, communication and absorption of ideas, allowing you as a leader to connect immediately with those around you; showing that you are listening to them, understanding them and can be trusted by them. Then follow up by demonstrating your competence, strength, and successes as a leader.

BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: