Leadership is clearly a useful career skill. It comes easier to some people than to others.
Less obvious it’s also true that likability is a useful career skill that is also easier for some people.
Like with so many things in the news, we assume a false dichotomy. Leaders are thought to be either decisive (and authoritarian) or likable (and less likely to hold other accountable). The best leaders are BOTH decisive and likable.
Best of all, you can actually learn to be more likable. Even if you’re working remotely.
Likable Leaders Get More Done
Likable leaders get more accomplished in less time simply because they face less resistance from the hornets to whatever it is they’re trying to get done.
According to research at Columbia University (by Melinda Tamkins), the more likable people get raises and promotions more frequently.
Dr. Tamkins found that, “popular workers were seen as trustworthy, motivated, serious, decisive and hardworking and were recommended for fast-track promotion and generous pay increases. Their less-liked colleagues were perceived as arrogant, conniving and manipulative. Pay rises and promotions were ruled out regardless of their academic background or professional qualifications.”
What makes a person likable? It’s not your good looks.
Friendly. Relatable. Real.
Nary a word about competence, my friends. This may not be fair. It even reminds me of high school….but likability is a real professional asset. The best, non-fake news is that anyone can learn it.
3 Tips to More Likability:
1. Amp up your positivity
The truth is…people don’t like Debbie Downers. They may feel sorry for them, but they don’t really enjoy spending time with them. Likable people exude positivity.
They don’t deny the reality of hardships or failures, but consciously reframe those difficulties to healthier positive ones. A positive mindset means that you can find a way out or an opportunity in a problem, rather than staying stuck there.
As a former “realistic” professional, the kind of person who doesn’t go for that positivity stuff, amplifying your positivity starts with a decision to do so. It requires convincing YOURSELF that being positive is worthwhile, even if it feels stupid or hard.
Just a few of 23 proven benefits from positivity adapted from a meta study by Lyubomirksy, King and Diener (this research looked at over 200 studies on happiness and positivity):
Higher job satisfaction
Higher annual salaries
Faster recovery from illness or injury
Yep. Literally it pays to be positive and likable.
2. Ask more questions
Likable people show sincere interest in others. Everyone has something to teach you. But you have to find out what that thing is you should know.
Three easy peasy multipurpose questions include:
How can I help you?
What are you excited about these days?
What good book have your read lately?
The good part is you don’t have to think of what to say after they answer. In fact, your likable go-to comment is “Tell me more.” Easy not sleazy.
Less talking + more asking = Massive Likability.
3. Share a mistake (just one)
Yes. If people know that you think about salted caramel ice cream all day, even during your performance reviews, they will like you even more.
If they know you can’t resist buying yet another book when your shelves are overflowing, people will think you’re odd, but like you.
If you share the story about the time you stupidly but sincerely corrected the grammar of your boss [just before you got fired,] you may be pitied, but secretly liked.
Perfect people are so annoying. Don’t be one.
If you’d like to learn more about Being the Likable Leader, let’s bring a webinar to your team on this hot topic!