The Leadership Styles of McCrory and Perdue

Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on

Leadership Postulate for this Blog: Each candidate’s leadership style will have a direct impact on his appeal to voters. The way in which they present themselves and their points of view is just as important as their actual opinion, as their method of working with others will be a direct indicator of their ability to lead North Carolina.

Research Findings to Support this Blog: According to Erik B. Herzik and Brent W. Brown’s book, Gubernatorial Leadership and State Policy, “all new governors recreate the governorship in unique forms – starting with the materials at hand, but guided by their own concepts and limited by what events their own skills permit to make of the formal office.”

The North Carolina gubernatorial contest between Republican Pat McCrory, currently mayor of Charlotte, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly “Bev” Perdue allows N.C. voters interesting contrasts in the matchup – not just between gender or party, but also on the way they present themselves as future leaders of the state. In fact, the topic is so important that McCrory’s own tagline for his campaign is “The difference is leadership,” ( while Perdue has run a TV ad that is called “Leader.” (

McCrory’s appeal is his inclusive tone in saying he desires what is best for all parts of North Carolina. As he told one reporter, “I did not give a speech to appease the east over the west, or the Piedmont over either one. I gave a consistent message because I believe if you try to appease everyone, you appease no one and you fail as a leader.” ( He emphasizes his independent streak in not always voting the party line and says that he wants to form coalitions with Democrats. (

Yet at the same time, he underlines that he is an outsider from state government and vows to reform it, a sentiment that plays well with the general discontent a majority of voters have regarding the image of scandals that have involved legislators in recent years. His public speaking style reflects his appearance for being direct – it is “bright, persuasive, confident” but not confrontational. (

As for his opponent, many believe Perdue won her party’s nomination in the May primary by looking straight into the camera during her TV commercials and pledging to run a “positive” campaign – and she held true to that statement. ( Her slogan about having “small-town values and big-time ideas” resonates with many North Carolinians as well. A former teacher, Perdue has a deliberate speaking pattern that clearly explains her positions in a relaxed yet forceful manner, making her points by inflecting the key words.

In her stump speeches, she emphasizes her wittiness as much as her smile and warmth. One observer noted that “Perdue is blessed with an appealing personality that includes a burst-out-laughing sense of humor.” (

If there is a common thread between Perdue and McCrory, it is that they both have indicated that if they are elected to head the state, their relationship with the General Assembly – not to mention fellow North Carolinians – will be different from that of Gov. Mike Easley, as several observers have criticized his style as being secretive and aloof. They both promise that they will not be conducting business as usual like the current administration, and that there will be more transparency in how they conduct business in state government. Whether this results in more efficient state government remains to be seen, but for now, the fact remains that polls indicate the race between them is close, indicating in part that each has strong characteristics to be a leader among the majority of North Carolina voters.


With Election Day rapidly approaching, we thought it would be interesting to study the similarities and differences in leadership qualities between the candidates running for governor of North Carolina. Leadership involves much more than just saying what needs to be done and expecting it to happen, and it will be interesting to see how the two candidates approach our state’s voters.

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