The Point: While leadership isn’t a popularity contest, it isn’t an unpopularity contest either! There is much more to be gained than lost by being likeable as a leader. So in this post we’ll explore the leadership challenge of likeability and provide 5 tips so you can achieve the smiley face emoji of leadership likeability… Enjoy!
It’s about Respect… NOT Likeability!
Jim was a senior leader for a Fortune 100 organization that I had the pleasure of working with (Name changed to protect identity). Jim had a Top 20 MBA program degree, and from the outside-looking-in, a successful career going for himself. However, there was one problem that Jim couldn’t overcome in his race to the corner office… Jim!
You see Jim was one of those leaders that was raised in the “business” by a tough SOB. These years of hazing taught him that people don’t need to like you/your every move… but they sure do need to respect you. Those that fell outside of the respect rankings were belittled immediately and soon recognized for dismissal/reassignment. It was all Jim, all time, with little room for anyone else placing a premium on respect.
We Don’t Like You!
Jim’s organization recently conducted a 360* behavioral assessment, where Jim as well as his organizational stakeholders provided feedback. These assessments are great perspective on a leader’s abilities, and the competencies that shape their ability to execute. However, Jim’s feedback was far from positive from his stakeholders.
It appears as though the 360* feedback on Jim was extremely consistent (a good thing) in that it was nearly identically unfavorable (a not-so good thing). Time and again, the deltas (or gaps) between where Jim viewed himself and stakeholders were broad/wide. It was as if the 360* assessment was conducted on two different subjects (Jim being one and the stakeholders providing feedback on someone totally different!) What hurt the most were the open/honest/brutal feedback portions, where “We don’t like you!” was pretty well spelled out (because that’s what several people said… Ouch!)
5 Tips to Leadership Likeability
Was Jim clueless, and/or were these results inaccurate? Here are 5 tips that you can take so as to improve your leadership likeability and not be like Jim:
Tip #5 – Manners Matter
Jim had a nasty habit of cutting people off in communication. It wasn’t uncommon for him to interrupt others while they were speaking in meetings. He’d even cut them off while walking down the hall. Remember, manners matter if you’re the leader!
Tip #4 – Focus
Paying attention to others while they were speaking was another of Jim’s weaknesses. Instead of listening to what others were speaking of in the moment, Jim was too busy focusing on what he was going to say next. Focus on the present… Listen to others!
Tip #3 – Emotional Awareness
Pay attention to not only what others say, but how they say it. Sometimes, body language (especially facial expressions) can tell the story much better than the words someone is attempting to use.
Tip #2 – PMA
Your mental attitude is reflected in everything you do. As such, employ a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) in everything you do (oh, and be sincere while doing so!)
Tip #1 – Respect Others
Keep in mind that no matter what you do, you’re not going to please all the people all the time. There are going to be those times when in fact you perceive that you are pleasing no one at all (not even yourself!) As such, remember that regardless of likeability, show respect at all times for those around you and especially yourself.
In this post we’ve examined the leadership challenge of likeability and provided 5 tips. Different cultures, different personalities, different competing interests make today’s workplace much more challenging than in years past. Good news, the future appears to be shaping up even more dynamic! Therefore, your ability to achieve leadership likeability will certainly be tested (so make it a character trait in your favor).