Whether a leader needs to be likeable or not is a question still open to debate. Some contend likeability is important, while others discount the trait, arguing that earning respect is more important
Some psychologists, however, stress the importance of likeability for leadership, contending that people vastly underestimate how much it influences people’s behavior, regardless of how competent the leader is.
But if you want to increase your likeability as a leader, how should you go about it? There are certain factors that determine likeability.
Whether we find someone likeable or not Is a process that occurs mostly at a subconscious level. One of the most important factors is whether we consider the person to be like us, that is, someone whom we consider to be part of our group. This type of reasoning goes back to our distant past, when identifying someone as being part of our group or not was a matter of survival.
And classifying someone as part of your group does not always depend on fondness. It’s more a matter of affiliation, identifying the person as having some sort of connection or association with you or your group.
This has a big influence on our behavior. For people we see as being like us, we are more apt to look at their behavior in a favorable way, we think about them in a more positive way, we perceive their performance as being better, we are more likely to listen to their advice, more likely to cooperate with them and to help them.
So for a leader to be perceived as more likeable, he or she needs to take steps to increase their affiliation with workers. And research has identified some ways to do this.
1. Offering praise for people or telling them that you have a high regard for them.
This is an effective way to develop a sense of affiliation with other people. They consider us more like them when we offer unsolicited praise for them first.
2. Commitment to others goals
Another way to create affiliation is to show your commitment to another person’s goals– not the goals of a team in general but the personal goals of the workers. This is a strong indication that you are part of their group.
3. Showing similarities
This doesn’t necessarily mean revealing a lot of your personal life. But simply showing how you have one or two meaningful similarities with other people can create a strong sense of belonging and affiliation. These similarities should be something that is important both to you and the other people.