“I’d rather be respected than liked.” Whenever I hear that statement I wonder why those are the only two options mentioned. Sometimes parents say, “My job is to be his father, not his friend.” I think, “Seriously, are those two mutually exclusive?” And when I hear a boss declare, “I want my employees to fear me, not like me,” I think we must be missing something.
Likeability has fallen on hard times lately.
I was reading through the Bible’s Book of Acts in a different version than my normal reading the other day when this verse jumped out at me. I had thought about this idea many times, but I had never seen it written before, let alone written in the Bible:
The apostles worked many miracles and wonders among the people. All of the Lord’s followers often met in the part of the temple known as Solomon’s Porch. No one outside their group dared join them, even though everyone liked them very much.—Acts 5:12-13 (CEV)
Did you catch that? Everyone liked the early Christians very much. Okay, so not everyone joined them. Some even tried to destroy them, but they were likeable.
Don Marquis observed, "Some persons are likeable in spite of their unswerving integrity."
If we’re going to excel as leaders we cannot be people pleasers, but we must be likeable. If we’re not likeable, sooner or later, someone who doesn’t like us will gather enough folks who don’t like us and we will not like the result—we’ll be out of business.
Dale Carnegie, in his classic book, “How To Win Friends And Influence People” reveals that getting along with your co-workers will not only improve our overall work experience, it will make us more successful.
A study by Melinda Tamkins of Columbia University indicated that workplace effectiveness comes not so much by what or who you know but by your popularity. The study revealed: “Popular workers were seen as trustworthy, motivated, serious, decisive and hardworking and were recommended for fast-track promotion and generous pay increases. Their less-liked colleagues were perceived as arrogant, conniving and manipulative. Pay rises and promotions were ruled out regardless of their academic background or professional qualifications."
For years I’ve thought that our presidential elections have been won by the most likeable candidates among the top nominees—at least since 1968 when Richard Nixon beat the affable Hubert Humphrey.
The Gallup company went a step further. They’ve conducted a personality poll prior to every recent presidential election and found that likeability has been the most consistent predictor of who would win since 1960!
Leadership must be likeable. If I want to be effective leading people, I need to be effective with people.
The Top Ten Signs Nobody Likes You
10. You remind your teacher that she forgot to give homework.
9. Your dog refuses to be seen outside with you.
8. Your B.S. is in B.S.
7. Your imaginary friends keep finding excuses not to come over.
6. You are so annoying that even your multiple personalities won't speak to you anymore.
5. You've actually had Mormon missionaries tell you, "We've gotta get going now"
4. You're wearing a yellow shirt with a black zig zag about halfway down
3. You find yourself seated in a handbasket and getting warmer.
2. You often find yourself asking, "What would Vladimir Putin do?"
1. Randy Newman is singing, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” when he notices you in the crowd. Then he stops.
Likeability is necessary for leadership. But likeability isn’t necessarily a gift.
Travis Bradbury wrote: “In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding.”
Likeability is a skill set. It can be learned, it can be developed.
So how do we get it?
Here is a great place to start:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.—Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Let’s start where the early followers of Christ started—let’s ask God to forgive us and fill us with His Spirit. The result might just be an increase in our likeability.