There is much debate about the public-private distinction within organizational research. This has implications for leadership research. If the public sector has unique characteristics compared to the private sector, such aspects must be considered when researching leadership within the public and private settings.The competing values framework was used to examine leaders’ perceptions in regards to their own leadership in a Norwegian public sector setting. Three public sector organizations were examined and 40 leaders were interviewed using a SWOT based approach to interviewing. The M-SWOT approach was used to in order enable the quantification of qualitative statements. Meaningful statements were extracted from transcribed material and mapped onto the research based model in order to examine the underlying tensions inherent in the framework. In addition information generated by the SWOT interviews that could not be accounted for by the framework was considered. The results indicated that the competing values framework could account for 64.7% of the total amount of statements generated from the interviews. In addition 35.3% of the total amount of statements could not be accounted for by the framework and this information provided some insights into aspects of Norwegian public sector leadership. This study illustrates the usefulness of an open approach to interviewing such as the SWOT approach, when examining leadership. The findings in this study indicates some support for using a generic leadership model when examining leadership in the public sector, however certain aspects of leadership in this sector need to be considered in future research.