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I’m the Boss! Why Should I Care If You Like Me?

| August 6, 2013

by Jim Bruce

From the desks of Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman comes an article sharing the importance of like-ability in a leader.  Zenger is CEO and Folkman is President at Zenger – Folkman, a consultancy focusing on strength based leadership development located in Orem, Utah.

Zenger – Folkman has one of the largest known databases of data from 360 reviews in the U.S.  This essay reports on one conclusion that can be drawn from that data – specifically, how does a leaders like-ability correlate with the leader’s effectiveness.

In their database of 51,836 leaders, they identified only 27 leaders who were in the bottom quartile in terms of like-ability and in the top quartile in terms of over effectiveness.  Said differently, like-ability and effectiveness are highly positively correlated.

This suggests that leaders who want to be effective should also be concerned about their like-ability.  The Zenger – Folkman data suggests seven key steps that leaders can take to increase their likability:

  1. Increase positive emotional connections with others.  Emotions are contagious.  If you are frustrated, that spreads;  if you are optimistic, that spreads.  Be aware of the emotion you are spreading.
  2. Display rock solid integrity.  Are you known for keeping your commitments and promises?  We strongly dislike those we cannot trust.
  3. Cooperate with others.  Organizations need to foster cooperation and collaboration, not competition.
  4. Be a coach, mentor, and teacher.  Most people favorably remember those who have helped them.  Help those around you develop their skills.
  5. Be an inspiration.  Don’t just push others to deliver on their goals.  Be inspiring and thus pull your team to step up with you to address the unexpected.
  6. Be visionary and future focused.  Share the vision, help the team understand how to get to there.  Help them be alert for the unexpected.
  7. Ask for feedback and make an effort to change.  Feedback from others helps the leader understand the impact they have.

The steps in this list should be familiar to alumni of the MOR Leaders Programs.  This does not mean that these behaviors are all in active use.  Perhaps now would be a good time to do some review and bring one or two of them into more active use now.

Zenger and Folkman close their piece:  “…if you are a man, this is even more important for you to consider, because in all probability, you are less liked than your female counterparts, and that’s hindering your effectiveness as a leader.”

Give it some thought and take some time to tune-up your behaviors in this area
.  .  .  jim