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Likeability & Leadership: Does It Matter?

 March 8, 2024   By Living As A Leader

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"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" Leadership Lessons from One of TV’s Most Beloved Shows

During a recent leadership workshop, I posed a simple yet revealing ice breaker: “Share one thing that you like or appreciate about your manager.” What followed was a profound insight into effective leadership dynamics.


As participants engaged in the “creeping circle” exercise, 90 percent of the room enthusiastically shared traits like empathy, motivation, fun, energy, and attentiveness in their managers. However, one individual's silence spoke volumes. Unable to articulate a single positive aspect about their manager, this lone voice highlighted a critical leadership gap.

 

The next day, I went to Google to see how normal this reaction might be by simply typing the words “my manager” in the search engine to see what would pop up. Without hitting enter, a classic employee vs. boss list immediately generated… “My manager is toxic. My manager is micromanaging me. My manager hates me.”

What does this have to do with leadership? A lot! Let’s talk numbers.

 

According to a study by Jack Zenger & Joseph Folkman, the chances that a manager who is strongly disliked will be considered a good leader are only about 1 in 2,000. Leadership isn't just about making tough decisions and setting strategy. It's about the way you make people feel. No one wants to go the extra mile for a boss they don’t like or respect. When team members struggle to identify positive attributes in their leaders, it signals a breakdown in communication, trust, and effectiveness.

 

The absence of admiration towards a manager underscores the need for introspection and improvement in leadership practices. Take a moment to consider your leadership conduct and how your actions shape their experience.

 

If your team had to rate you on a likeability scale, where do you think you'd fall? Are you nurturing a positive work environment, fostering growth, and building trust? Do you lead with intention, empathy, and authenticity?

 

Imagine walking into a room and your team's faces light up. They trust you. They respect you. They're loyal to you. This isn't a dream - it's what effective leadership looks like. A thriving team environment isn't a product of luck. It's a result of a leader who inspires admiration, fosters connection, and builds a solid foundation of trust.

 

Richard Branson famously said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” As a leader, it's your job to both engage your team and earn their admiration. What are you doing to ensure that you're a leader your team can both respect and like? Challenge yourself this week to improve your likeability factor. It might just be the key to unlocking your leadership potential.

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