My neighbor joined me and some friends for a girls’ night in. She works at the newest and greatest car brand in the Silicon Valley and she mentioned that, today, it is not about being a business shark but about “being likeable.”
Few days later I was flying to Seattle for an SEO convention and I found in my phone a book I had bought a while ago. I was not in the best mood, let me tell you. I felt very stressed from work and for having to leave my family for a whole week.
Reading Likeable Leadership by Dave Kerpen was the first step to a great convention and many new thoughts.
After my neighbor’s comment on “being likeable” I wanted to know what was that new trend. What I read soothed my stress and connected immediately with the learnings of an Emerging Leadership group I had been part of, giving them a deeper perspective.
What is being likeable? For me, it is being you, in a good way. It is not about being funny (only), hard working or having a powerful speech:
It needs to come from within
How likeable can you be in a business world? The first answer that comes to my mind is that being likeable cannot be something manufactured, a dress you put one day with specific people, just to take it off later.
It is not an attitude but a whole approach to your life (“the way you are at work reflects how you are at home and vice versa” said my leadership coach.)
I am sure that if we could take off the so many layers of pretension we put on when we go to work (and by pretension I mean the big effort we put every day on trying to be what others expect us to be), if our true self could be seen more easily, everybody -or almost everybody- would be naturally likeable. We cover up too much.
You can learn to be likeable
We can learn to discover how likeable we are. We don’t need to be that charismatic guy who everybody likes because of his charm and looks. Being likeable is being positive, open, honest and respectful, and have a clear perspective of what your true priorities are.
What will be your legacy: a bunch of profit for your company that you delivered making your life and your team’s life miserable? Ripping off people and party about it Wolf of Wall Street style? Or enjoying your work, knowing your limits and encouraging your team and making them as genuinely passionate about their job as you are. Having fun with your work should be a goal.
One thing the digital world has taught me is that the solution to most of the problems is always there, and it was much easier than I expected, but I was not able to see it because I was struggling to find a much more difficult answer. It just took a small change on how I approached the problem. To stand back a little bit. In the same way, being likeable could require just a little bit of a change in perspective.
How can you be more likeable?
This is just my opinion, let me know what you think:
Be positive and open. The online world has proved that thinking out of the box and dreaming can make the greatest things happen. And this reflects directly on how people perceive you. When you dream, people see it and want to pitch in.
Let be. I learned this from my daughter’s uncle and -wrong or right- has inspired me when raising my kids. I am not the one at the wheel in their lives, I want them to learn to make their own choices. In the same way, standing for my ideas does not mean that I won’t let other opinions in. There is always something we can learn from each other and this constant exchange keeps our minds -a projects- constantly “updated”.
Mean it. Do you act like you mean it or do you really mean it? Does it come from within? You can pretend to respect other people’s ideas in a meeting and then never show any kind of support. You can pretend to be supportive but manipulate everything to have it your way in the end. Remember this is about a new approach that comes from within, you need to sound true and honest in order to be liked as a leader.