Even though as a leader your goals may not specifically be to increase your own personal likeability, there is a correlation between how much an individual is liked and how successful they are. Most significantly, your likeability increases your ability to influence and connect with others. Here are some avenues to increase your own personal likeability factor.
- Put others at ease. If someone mispronounces a word while conversing with you, for example, never embarrass them by correcting them in front of other people. If a client or colleague were to breach some aspect of etiquette, do not draw attention to it but rather say something to pass over the faux pas. No one wants to feel inadequate, ill-prepared, or incapable. Actively help others to feel capable, accepted, smart, and informed, and in so doing you will reinforce your leadership and wisdom. Your stock rises as the anxiety of those around you declines.
- Be authentic. Most people you work with only connect with you in a professional setting. They don’t see you at home or how you act away from job. Therefore, it is critical to “be yourself” in the workplace. People can quickly spot pretentious people in three ways: an affective tone; complex, overly-formal word choices; and choreographed movements and gestures. Use simple words, be at ease, and be yourself.
- Look for things in common. Let people find something they have in common with you. We tend to like people who are like us. Share something personal like a favorite sports team or vacation spot. Sharing a personal struggle — even one as simple as battling the new changes to the email inbox — will give people a connection with you. People identify with your humanity and your struggles more than your successes.
- Don’t be a prima donna. When you act as though you are above the team or give off a sense of superiority, you will drive people away. There is little less likeable than someone with this attitude, and as a leader it will cripple your abilities. The converse to this is compassion, empathy, and mutual respect. Practice these, and your effectiveness will increase.
- Use humor to open hearts and minds. Whether in a technical presentation or interpersonal conversation, humor can set an inviting, engaging tone. Keep in mind, humor does not mean a joke or one-liner, but rather it is the ability to see life in a light-hearted way. When you see things as an issue of life and death, that intensity tends to make people ill at ease. Your willingness to lighten up can be invaluable to position yourself as a confident, comfortable leader.
Whether you’re leading a team, heading up a project, or looking to build credibility, when speaking to an audience, put the likeability factor work for you, not against you.