You can’t outsource likability—or authenticity—to paraphrase Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
But what about those who aren’t easily likeable? No one wants to have coffee with them, must less a bottle of beer.
And some managers prefer not to make the gesture. In the FLIP habits survey that looks at the extent to which managers and project leaders are focusing, listening, involving and personalizing their messages, a few of the respondents noted the challenges of relating to their direct reports these days. One individual wrote the comment: “I am not your pal. I am your boss. I do not socialize on a private level.”
BFF (best friends forever) though is not the goal for the workplace. However, making connections so you can build and keep credibility is important.
Those who aren’t likable or who refuse to try can hurt their credibility.
That’s because credible people tend to be likable as well as action-oriented, composed and competent. They also have integrity. All of these characteristics are important for bosses on a daily basis.
Now add our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) work world to the mix. When bosses need to influence us to take action around a strategic initiative that’s new, untested or against our interest, we’re not always thrilled to jump aboard.
We’re more inclined to listen though if we consider the boss credible. Plus it helps if the call to action is simple, well-reasoned and delivered with sincerity.
Better yet, if the boss shows vulnerability, we’re more likely to feel a connection and think about complying and maybe committing. The boss not only comes across as credible, but also authentic.
What the boss in the survey needs to keep in mind is that being likable doesn’t have to be all about you.
People can improve their likeability quotient by connecting and showing more interest in others. This includes personalizing their interactions, rather than blasting out homilies or generic messages like greeting cards. (Or even worse, assuming people can read their mind, which was the favored practice of one boss I’d like to forget.)
For example, in the personalizing section of the FLIP habits survey, the questions ask the extent to which managers and team leaders are regularly coaching direct reports and team members, recognizing them for their efforts and/or achievements and giving them feedback.
These actions respond to people’s desire to know how they’re doing.
And if bosses perform these actions in a respectful manner, they probably can score a “like” a boss button.
By the way, if you’re a manager or project leader and haven’t taken the FLIP habits survey yet, please take the survey before the Sept. 5 deadline. Please share with others, too.
Connect the dots plus dot the “i”s to be more intentional, inquisitive and inclusive
How well are you tapping into the skills and wisdom you need to lead in a BANI world?
All the old playbooks are out-of-date. Instead, you need to reach inside yourself, tap into your wisdom, and connect the dots for yourself and others.
To start, you can use these 5 tips to embrace your humanity and become a better leader.