November 16, 2021
Many people assume that it’s possible for a person to be an effective leader without being likable. That is technically true, but you may not like the odds. In a study of 51,836 leaders, we found just 27 who were rated at the bottom quartile in terms of likability but in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness — that’s approximately one out of 2,000.
Our likability index, based on data collected from 360 assessments, measures a broad set of behaviors that go far beyond smiling and having a pleasant personality.
Likability sounds like an immutable trait — something people either have or don’t. But our experience in working with thousands of leaders suggests otherwise. Our 360 data from these 50,000+ leaders highlighted seven key steps for executives to substantially increase their likability.
Check out our latest episodes of The 90th Percentile; An Unconventional Leadership Podcast
You can be more likable. Identify two of the actions from the list above that would most help you in your current situation. A great way to start would be to ask for feedback and ask team members to identify which activities would have the most value to them. Make a plan, identify some specific steps you will take to improve, and then stick to it. Ask others for feedback on your progress.
Oh, and by the way— if you are a man, this is even more important for you to consider because, in all probability, you are less liked than your female counterparts, and that’s hindering your effectiveness as a leader.
—Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman
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(This article first appeared on HBR)
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