Leadership – Being Likable is an important Business Strategy

Hillary Clinton was told this week at the New Hampshire Caucus that she was not as “likable” as Barack Obama. Being a smart Politian, Leader and Business person she immediately changed some of her words in her next speech in the hopes of seeming more “likable”.

In the Iowa Caucus, Obama and Edwards took the lead due not only to their politics but because they were more “likable”. Regardless of your political views if you listen to the buzz around Clinton and Obama you know that “likability” matters.

It’s pretty clear that no matter what candidate you like-Democrat or Republican, Barrack or Hillary, that Hillary has more experience. In business you might call it more technical knowledge. But in general she’s not the favorite when it comes to the “likability” factor.

No matter how much knowledge and experience she has, people just find Barrack more “likable”. This is a barrier that Hillary is attempting to overcome and time will show if she’s successful.

As leaders and business people this sends us a clear message. Just like other barriers to success that you deal with daily within your business, you need to view “likability” or your Persona as a key business strategy. You can have top notch knowledge and expertise in your chosen field but if the image you present in your circle of influence is not “likable” you may not succeed.

Persona is the way you present yourself to the world. It’s your personality, role, character, façade or front. It’s important to note here that you must be Authentic in your persona. That is, you must be the same on the inside as you are on the outside or people will see you as dishonest and you will lose all credibility. We’ll cover Authenticity in a forth coming article.

Here’s an example from my own career. I was a manager in an aerospace corporation in inventory management and was in the running for a senior management position.

Mike, who had been in the department longer, was more technically proficient than I and knew our product better was also being considered. But he had some personality traits that got in his way; he was abrupt, confrontational and rubbed everyone he came into contact with wrong, irritating them and making them not want to cooperate with him.

By all rights from a technical and seniority perspective he should have been a shoe in for the promotion. I was chosen for the position. Not because I was more technically proficient but because my personal interaction skills were better. I was friendlier to those I worked with, took time to talk with them about their lives, smiled more often and went out of my way to help them if I could. I got the job not because I knew more but I was more “likable”.

That taught me a huge lesson in my career. Personal development matters! Your personality and character is your business and leadership Asset or it’s your Barrier to success.

How do you present yourself to your clients and customers? Do they feel as if you care about their needs or only about your own agenda? What’s your business atmosphere like? Are your employee’s giving off good vibes or is there strife and discontent in your place of business?

Personal development is an important business strategy and should be given as much attention as your other key business strategies.

Copyright (c) 2008 Jean Starling