While there are many attributes associated with good leadership, likability is not one that immediately springs to mind. This is an underrated and often undervalued characteristic among individuals in senior roles, primarily because it contrasts with our ingrained image of leaders being dominant and assertive.
Good and sustainable leadership depends on an ability to influence others, however, so that teams share in a specific vision and work towards a common goal. This cannot be achieved successfully by those who rule through fear alone, as people are more inclined to follow an individual who is likable and charming in equal measure. In this respect, likability is one of the key attributes for any ambitious leaders.
So what exactly are the primary habits and traits that distinguish likable people with a capacity for influencing others from other types of people?
1. They Have a Positive and Infectious Mental Attitude
Cynicism is a natural state for some, especially in the world of work and commercial leadership. From the emotional drain and inconvenience of excessive meetings to the hidden agendas of others, we can easily become suspicious of those around us and cynical about their motivations. It can be easy to give into this, but likable individuals tend to maintain a positive mindset that is infectious and establishes greater levels of morale.
2. They Always Take Positive Lessons from Failure
This positive outlook manifests itself in multiple ways, although it is most obvious in times of adversity. More specifically, likable influencers seek out positive lessons from failure, rather than brooding over their shortcomings and developing feelings of resentment. According to inspirational author Napoleon Hill (who wrote the famous Think and Grow Rich), those with a likable persona are more likely to express gratitude for having gained a measure of wisdom that would not have come without failure.
3. They are Inquisitive
Likable people are good at communications, both in terms of sharing their own ideas and listening to others. So rather than focusing on their own viewpoint and simply waiting for the next opportunity to talk, they listen to your perspective and digest its meaning. This is often manifested by an inquisitive nature and a tendency to ask questions, as this reinforces their interest in what is being said and underlines how they care for others.
4. The Always Speak in a Considered and Friendly Tone
On a similar note, likable people who are good influencers also tend to speak in a deliberate and confident manner. This immediately gives their voice a pleasing and reassuring sound, whether they are speaking to a single individual or a larger group. Such a tone and communication style also suggests a sense of self-control, which in turn inspires trust from those who are listening.
5. They Maintain Composure at All Times
The working day is full of minor frustrations, as is the wider world around us. From commonplace office time thieves with their drive-by work requests, to the petty rudeness of others, it is easy to become frustrated and lose our composure in front of others. Likable individuals are able to maintain their poise at all times, however, avoiding those unnecessary overreactions and potential confrontations.
6. They are Openminded and Accepting of Change
We have already discussed the impact of cynicism on individuals and those around them, but it is important to note that this also creates a closed mind that is resistant to certain ideas. It also prevents people from interacting with those who are different, denying them the opportunity to experience personal growth. Likable individuals have no such issues, as they retain a positive and open minded attitude that is receptive to change and difference.
7. They are Able to Suppress Negative Thoughts
While expressive people tend to be honest by nature, this can be detrimental when it comes to interacting with others. While likable individuals are capable of expressing themselves, they also have a sense of self-discipline that enables them to suppress negative thoughts and avoid sharing these with others. This avoids causing unnecessary offence to others, which is crucial to maintaining good morale and productive relationships.
8. They Don’t Seek Attention
There are few characteristics that are more distressing than attention seeking, whether in the workplace or at home. This stems from an underlying desire to be noticed, and achieve notoriety for both positive and negative behavior. Given that this is such an unappealing quality, it should come as no surprise that likable individuals are more likely to avoid attracting attention unless it is for a selfless cause or a hard-earned accomplishment.
9. They Praise Others in a Genuine and Believable Way
While praise is always welcome and an excellent way of improving morale, false praise will create cynicism and mistrust on a large scale. This is where likable people often excel as individuals, as they deliver praise whenever it is deserved, without being excessive or giving the impression of being false. This is an excellent communication skill to have, as you must be able to deliver praise in a believable and genuine tone in order for your comments to be well received.
10. They Trust Someone Enough to Point Out Their Flaws
On a final note, it is important to reaffirm that likability is not a parlor trick or a facade that can be adopted. Rather than leaders pretending to be likable, they earn this praise because they care about their behavior, reputation and the way in which they are perceived by others. They are also likely to have a close confidante or network of supporters that are entirely honest with them at all times, offering feedback on their flaws and potential areas for improvement.
Featured photo credit: Pepe Pont / Flickr via flickr.com