Contrary to popular belief, being likeable isn’t a trait you’re born with. Like any good habit, developing a likeable personality takes repeated effort until it starts to become second nature. Although some people might just naturally seem to have an easier time being likeable, chances are they’ve made a conscious effort to improve themselves in a positive way. It’s also important to remember that likeability isn’t a set constant – it can vary depending on your mood, external factors and how you present yourself.
On the same note, leadership is also a developed skill. Being a likeable leader also allows you to be a better leader. Good leadership isn’t just about telling others what to do and expecting it to happen – it’s being able to best identify your team’s individual strengths and skills, while helping them meet their potential. In our yearly tech talent surveys, poor leadership is one of the top reasons that employees choose to change employers. Other top motivators include not feeling involved in decisions and not being stimulated by their work. Unless you want to lose your top employees to competitors, it’s time to step up the leadership game.
Being Open/Personal: Just because you’re a leader, doesn’t mean it’s not ok to share your own personal stories with your team. A good sales person, for example, knows sharing personal details and stories is one of the quickest ways to build a connection – it gives the person an inside view into who you are as a person. It turns a business transaction into a trusted relationship. A likeable leader does the same – sharing enough insights into their own personal life to build a strong relationship with their team.
Remembering Names and Details: Strong leaders care deeply about their employees, taking the time to remember details in their lives that are important. Birthdays, anniversaries, and even the names of their children are all things that demonstrate you’re not just a manager, but someone that cares about them as a person. Likeable leaders care enough about their employees to remember important details.
Not Afraid to Get Hands Dirty: The biggest complaint I hear about poor leaders is their unwillingness to get their hands dirty. Strong managers lead by example: if an urgent project is behind schedule and everyone is working overtime while the boss heads out early, it speaks volumes. Likeable leaders are willing to step in where there are gaps, not complaining that a task is below them.
Being Authentic: Being authentic with your employees not only builds trust and respect, it also contributes to your likeability as a leader. It’s impossible to like someone if you don’t get to see their true self, and your employees can easily see when you’re not being authentic.
Acting as an Equal: Nothing is more frustrating than being told by a manager you can’t do something, just because the boss said so. It stirs up childhood memories of the dreaded “because I said so”. Although leaders have the final say, acting superior or making decisions without even considering any other options or opinions is the quickest way to build resentment in the ranks. Likeable leaders are humble, and don’t need to rule with an iron fist to see results.
Giving Responsibility/Opportunities: One of the top reasons employees begin a job hunt is due to a lack of responsibility or opportunity to grow. Poor managers tend to keep high level projects close to them, afraid that if they distribute too much responsibility they will be outshined. Strong leaders realize the better they are at helping their team members reach their potential, the better they are as managers. Likeable managers strive to help each of their employees not just meet, but exceed their potential.
Sharing the Blame: Poor leaders always need someone to blame; good managers take shared responsibility. Mistakes happen, and focusing your energy on reprimanding the responsible person is a time waste. Instead, focus your energy on getting to the root cause of why the mistake happened in the first place – maybe your employee was missing a critical training step or maybe the right tools and processes aren’t in place to prevent mistakes in the first place. Likeable leaders don’t pass the blame, they work with their team to resolve the issue.
Listening to your Team: There’s almost nothing that will build resentment for a manager more than an unwillingness to listen. Good managers value employees that can bring different ideas and opinions to the team; poor managers rely solely on their own opinions and don’t care about what their team thinks. Being able to listen and actually consider others’ ideas is how you become well-liked and respected as a leader.