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