The Warm and Powerful Leader: Part Two.

Written by David Pullan

The Warm and Powerful Leader: Part Two.

This week I want to develop the concept of the warm and powerful leader and apply it to the life cycle of a hypothetical project. I’ll look at the main principles and and see how they work in different contexts.


Remember that three of the main principles were,

  • Leadership is a mindset rather than a job title.
  • Warmth is about empathy and seeing things through the eyes of others.
  • Power is fundamentally about personal power in so much as it is about standing strongly behind your beliefs, viewpoint and values.

If you get these elements working for you then you are much more likely to have strong social power, which is the ability to influence others without the need for coercion.


What I’m going to add this week is the concept of the four Cs of leadership as defined by the Ariel Group from Boston, MA. These are,

  • Conceiver
  • Coach
  • Collaborator
  • Captain.

So let’s put it all together.


It’s Monday morning, your phone rings and a long standing client is calling from her car. There’s an urgent piece of work that needs doing and if you can get a team together it’s yours.


The job will be exciting, lucrative and prestigious and a lot will ride on its success.


The only down side from your point of view is that it will be a step into the unknown for a lot of your people. Your team is very enthusiastic, but the levels of experience are variable and there are a couple of technical wizards who can have attitude problems if you don’t handle them properly. Basically it’s just like any team. 


So how does a warmly powerful leader deal with this situation using the 4 Cs?

  1. Conceiver: The first thing you do is gather the team together and powerfully create your vision for the project. You set parameters and motivate the troops with a clear and inspirational picture of what the work could look like. You also use your warmth as you ask people to build on the vision to create a shared objective. You remember that people remember feelings, picture and words in that order. So you really commit to telling a passionate visual story about how this work will unfold, how much you need the team and how much you will all get out of it.
  2. Coach: Having created the vision with power and warmth you really think about the team. There are stars in there who need guidance and continued motivation. With these guys you take a coaching approach. This is all about about appreciative leadership. It’s about asking incisive questions and giving meaningful feedback. It’s about lighting the blue touch paper and watching these fires burn brightly.
  3. Collaborator: Of course you don’t forget the potential stars who are out of their comfort zone. If you have come across the Blanchard Skill/Will Matrix you will know that what is stopping these guys is a lack of ability in certain areas. The warmly powerful leader sorts this out immediately by rolling their sleeves up and getting hands on. They also spot the moment when the skill has been learned and it is necessary to step back into a coaching role.

And of course you’ll notice that I’ve left Captain until last. And this is because I am defining it very specifically.


For the purposes of today I am defining the captain as the Alex Ferguson hair dryer model of micro-manager. The one who is breathing down the necks of people at every moment and letting them know if they have stepped out of line. Sometimes this is done explicitly and sometimes it is done passive aggressively.


Now I am not silly enough to think that it is never necessary to let people know if they have under delivered out of laziness, stupidity or malice. But I fundamentally believe that if you conceive, coach and collaborate in the right way you will rarely have to call on this Old Testament, 50s Dad version of leadership.


So this week my task is as follows.


Think about you as a conceiver, coach and collaborator. Think about which one you need to be right now in different contexts. Think about what that looks and sounds like for you. And think about how you can show your warmth and power when you are doing it.


  • W B Yeats

    'Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.'