As a female leader, I've struggled with the same issue that many others before me have - how important is it to be likeable? How important is it to ponder the topic? How relevant is it? Does it look differently with men and women?
And....am I overthinking it?
Did a little research (yes, you probably assumed that) and a few key notes about likeability emerged. Three common characteristics consistently arose around being more likeable.....
Self-awareness. Leaders need to be able to focus on their impact on others. Does the value of an idea change when you raise it versus someone else on the team? There is some merit to the notion that letting someone else take the lead with you promoting their leadership. Often times, teams will go along with what a leader is proposing, even if there are flaws in the approach, simply because the leader is the one bringing it forward. The same goes for the perception of leadership and the change in dynamics in meetings. For example, I would love to attend more staff meetings led by principals, but as an Assistant Superintendent, I know how my presence alters the environment. Being self-aware of how you impact others is important for all leaders.
Humility. Not of us are right all the time. Some of us are right even less. And then there is the old saying that I've taken to heart over the years: it is more important to do right than be right. Humility isn't about one's response to being humiliated but rather the ability to look at plans, teams, and collaborative work and adjust it constantly. Solicit feedback. Encourage others to take risks. Sometimes accept B level work and let go some of the control in order to empower the team. Find flexible ways to use your power as a leader in ways that keeps ego in check.
Patience. Alas, the virtue we all strive to have more of...patience. Love the studies that say those who take a bit longer and work harder to revise their work, exhibiting patience in that around them, are the leaders whose goals are more effectively achieved and appreciated. Those who lack patience are often viewed as lacking self-control and more prone to conflict. Take the edge that is given, breathe, allow a little more time, and be steady.
Certainly some ideas to think about if likeability is an area you would like to improve. It doesn't mean you need to be the most popular, but let's face it. People tend to get more done if they fall higher up on that likeability scale.
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