Likeability Matters in Leadership

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018

Will you be a great leader? Don’t let anyone fool you. Making predictions about who will be a great leader is quite unscientific. Why? Because dealing with the people side of the business has too much variability, too many emotions, too many exceptions to the rule. Yet there are truisms about leadership and the human dimension in organizations that can help you be a great leader. Here are a few:

Results AND Likeability Matter

A new line of research by Zenger and Folkman argues that being liked and delivering results defines extraordinary leaders. Exceptional leaders are very likable. Exceptional leaders deliver outstanding results and highly engaged employees. Their preliminary evidence is showing women leaders may have some advantages in the likeability category.

What’s going on with this likeability factor? Well, people who make things happen (leaders) have one thing in common — social currency. Imperceptible, yet powerful all the same, social currency is like business accounting for goodwill. It’s the intangible value earned from the exchange of positive human interactions. Helpful relationships produce social currency which, in turn, gets results and increases likeability.

You’re on Camera 24/7

Successful leaders focus on actions that matter, becoming teachers and role models. This is the “walking the talk” stuff. People will model behavior if they can observe it. Today’s social media world puts your ethics, truthfulness and personal conduct on the line for all to see. You are “on camera” 24/7.

Leading with a higher purpose, having a clear view of what your work means above and beyond business success, will guide you through tough times, tough decisions and help you motivate and inspire others. It will also let you manage the 24/7 leadership world you live in.

Be Spiritually Healthy

Our CEO Bob Rosen talks about the importance of “spiritual health” in his book, Grounded. In today’s business world, there is a role for spirituality and the bottom line. Here is his advice for creating social currency, the goodwill you need to be a great leader:

Define and articulate your higher purpose. Then let your actions and words show what you believe.

Be culturally aware and interested. You probably work with people from many different cultures. Go out of your way to ask people about their backgrounds.

Be kind. People who are kind or grateful are happier than those who are not.

Show generosity of spirit. Show respect, be fair, express care and concern, listen, reflect, give credit where it is due.

Volunteer to help others. Altruism is good for the body and the soul.

Hire spiritually healthy colleagues. Surround yourself with healthy people.

Take it personally.

Believing in that old axiom “don’t take it personally, it’s just business” is straight-up crazy. Individuals make things happen. It requires personal effort, energy and commitment to lead people. You can’t help but take things personally.