In order to earn the public’s trust, psychologists say leaders need to strike a near-perfect balance between two personality traits: warmth and competence.
In other words, they need to find ways to show that they’re not only experienced and credible, but also human and friendly.
For Hillary Clinton, who’s been accused repeatedly of having a “likability problem,” this balance could be virtually impossible to achieve. While Clinton generally has little problem demonstrating her political skill, she’s had a considerably harder time conveying the charisma that’s necessary to win over voters.
She is largely perceived as competent … but not warm.
It’s an issue that’s common among women leaders — but not among their male counterparts — scientists say.
When it comes to warmth and competence, “women in power walk a fine line,” said John Antonakis, a professor of organizational behavior at HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne in Switzerland.
Antonakis’ research focuses on the role of charisma in leadership, and he pointed out that, especially compared to her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, Clinton is a relatively uncharismatic leader.