Contrary to conventional wisdom, likeability is high on the scale of importance for successful leaders.
Likeability is a genuine kindness and compassion for others that comes wholly from within and extends indiscriminately without. It is generous in its offering and profoundly felt when received.
Leadership needs positive intent. It is more than people merely getting along with one another, being pleasant and ‘nice’ and avoiding conflict. Every interaction and conversation had by a direct supervisor or manager is an opportunity to stretch beyond the basics. Employees want enriched relationships. Ask, and they will express a thirst for learning and growth, for work that has meaning, has purpose. If you are not bringing these concepts to centre stage on a regular basis for your employees, then you need to be.
Likeable leaders have difficult conversations and make the tough calls, and it has everything to do with unquestionable respect and care for their employees. If leaders didn’t care or didn’t want to see their employees grow, or didn’t believe in growing business, they wouldn’t be bothered talking the hard issues at all. Healthy conflict is predicated on trust, not silence.
At this point, some leadership self-reflection may be required, and this could form the genesis of your employee engagement plan. The benefits will extend beyond just a ‘pleasant’ place to work.
After all, employees leave their leaders/managers, not the organisations in which they work.