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Marcie Hopkins, U of U Health.
What Kind of Big Cheese Are You – Pandemic Style
HR’s director of communication and recognition Christian Sherwood reveals what kind of leader you are, with a bit of fun and help from Harvard Business Review.

add a bit of cheer to your pandemic holiday plans, we are revisiting our Big Cheese leadership quiz, adapted from the classic leadership article “Seven Transformations of Leadership.” Many aspects of our work have changed as we combat COVID-19. Let’s see if your leadership traits have adapted, too!

Come take a sample from our virtual cheese tray. You may be surprised to find how your tastes have changed (I’m looking at all of you who think you don’t like blue cheese!).

Take the quiz.

Read your results below.

Brie/The Diplomat

You, my friend, are a smooth wedge of brie. You embody the “Diplomat” style of leadership. Though it may sound exotic, you are actually quite down-to-earth and are always looking out for your team. Like any good bit of brie, you are non-confrontational and very agreeable. You keep your wits about you, even when under pressure (i.e. have you ever tried a baked brie? Magnificent!) and rarely make waves at the office, or on the cheese tray.

  • Avoids overt conflict by managing all sides, rarely rocks the boat
  • Is that “special sauce” that holds the team together
  • Avoids conflict
  • Difficulty in changing status quo (performance, feedback, etc.)
  • Exotic in name, but very approachable
  • Works well with all the crackers (i.e. staff, peers), but also very agreeable on its own
  • Melts beautifully, doesn’t fall apart

Irish Cheddar/The Achiever 

Hello there stalwart one! You are a robust Irish Cheddar, never faltering or failing to impress. You know those people who say they aren’t “cheese” people? Well you look them squarely in the eyes and impress them with your familiar flavor and a bit of sharp flair. These are the same people who question whether a goal can be met, or problem solved. Those questions are no match for you. No. You are reliable, structured, and sturdy. You are Cheddar, you are the “Achiever” leader. 

Problem solver, reliable, promotes teamwork, responsive, goal based

May not think outside the box, ok with status quo

  • Crowd pleaser
  • Always get the job done

Stilton/The Strategist

Well, well, well … there you are. A visionary, a “Strategist.” You are a creamy Stilton Blue. That’s right, a blue! Before you run off with your assumptions about this brilliant blue, remember it’s your unique ability to influence people—to get them working together—that makes you special. At work, your influence abounds. On the cheese tray, well, your influence abounds there, too, as you tend to make your presence known. You have a decisive knack for charting new ground and creating cross-functional vision. You find solutions for problems yet discovered. And, most importantly, you do this through collaboration. No Stilton Blue is best on its own. You must be paired with complimentary flavors for your true strengths to shine. And that takes a Strategist.

Solution finder, visionary—long and short term, collaborative, challenges assumptions

Irritatingly perfect

Influences the whole tray with charm and personality, gets people talking

Parmigiano-Reggiano/The Alchemist

A classic. You are “the queen (or king) of cheeses.” You have the gift of transformation; you are an “Alchemist.” If a project has lost its purpose (or a lasagna lacks luster) you, the big Parm, have the charisma and chemistry to bring the right combination of people and thought leadership to energize and transform the ordinary into the remarkable. Admittedly you may have a tough exterior, and sometimes be a bit salty, but that’s part of the grit required to alter everyday work into something spectacular. You may look humble sitting there on the cheese tray without many frills. But remember, not everyone can do as much as you. You are beloved in so many venues (culinary and occupationally) because you are transformational! 

  • Charismatic
  • Reinvents teams and organizations, transforms organizations and people

Moves on to bigger cheese trays

  • Just salty enough, so good and well rounded it is beloved
  • Known for its use on and off the cheese tray
  • You always go back for more


This article was first posted December 13, 2019 and has been updated. 



Christian Sherwood

Director, Communication and Recognition, Human Resources; Deputy Editor, Accelerate, University of Utah Health

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