People are better followers of people they like. And it also helps attract and retain employees – and desired clients. I’m not advocating that the likability of a leader be a popularity contest, but all things being equal, it does tilt the scale favorably.
I try hard to be likable, inside and outside the company. I have also worked to instill it in the leaders around me. Why? People enjoying working for and buying from people they like.
One of the most likable leaders on our executive team at Marco is also our newest. I’ve enjoyed watching people gravitate toward our new CFO, Chris Pudenz. They often tell me how much they like working with him and his team.
How likable are you? We cannot change our core personality, but we can modify our behaviors to increase our likability. Here’s a look at the key behaviors that seem to impact the likability of a leader:
- Acknowledge the presence of others.
Make it a point to say hi to everyone you pass by in the office, whether you know them or not. Call them by name whenever possible. It communicates that you see them and value them.
- Show sincerity.
We know sincerity when we see and feel it. Take an apology – or even a compliment. When it is genuine and sincere, we know and accept it. When it’s not, it can cause more harm. It has to be natural and usually include specifics for validation. Likable leaders can even effectively deliver a reprimand well.
- Make yourself easy to get to.
Titles can naturally be intimidating and deflect people from connecting. While approachability can become more challenging as an organization grows, it becomes even more important. Go beyond keeping your office door open to intentionally inviting people in as you see them walk by. Spend time away from your desk, walk a little slower in the hallway, take your time in the break room, don’t rush out of meetings and keep your eyes open for opportunities to connect.
- Be responsive.
Good follow-up matters in leadership. It’s a courtesy that leaders can easily do or delegate as the demands of the job or growth of the organization increase. A lack of follow-up indicates that you’re not interested, whether that is something you intended or not. Even if you don’t have the time to fully address something, at least acknowledge you received it and that you will follow-up.
- Be transparent.
Be willing to expose your weaknesses. Likable leaders are vulnerable and open. We all have opportunities to improve and it’s okay to let people know that. I think some of the best leaders aren’t afraid to show their vulnerability. It makes them more approachable.
Think of a likable leader in your organization. How do you compare? If you had to give yourself a likability score, would it be high, good, average or poor? Self-awareness comes into play here. Take the time to assess where you’re at and the behaviors that you can improve to get better results.