Sounds like a leader: an ascription-actuality approach to examining leader emergence and effectiveness

Margarida Truninger, Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, Katya C. Fernandez, Debra Cancro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aspiring leaders are often advised to look the part—but what about sounding the part? This study supports and expands the ascription-actuality trait theory of leadership by proposing that vocal delivery matters for earning leadership opportunities, whereas leader competency matters for actual effectiveness in role. We tested hypotheses within an organizational simulation where 197 managers gave short campaign speeches to run for the organization's leadership positions. AI-informed voice-analytic technology was used to measure vocal delivery, while the 360° assessments from their actual organizations were used to measure leader competency and leader effectiveness. Results supported our hypotheses: Vocal delivery was positively associated with leader emergence, but not leader effectiveness. In contrast, leader competency was positively associated with leader effectiveness, but not leader emergence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101420
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Ascription-actuality trait theory of leadership
  • Leader effectiveness
  • Leader emergence
  • Vocal delivery


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