Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Executive Career Booster: "Likeableness"

In the C-suite, it’s possible that Forrest Gump would have been more successful than Albert Einstein.

Competency on its own doesn’t guarantee career advancement. It’s just one of a litany of qualities, traits and skills required to get to the top and key among them is what Stephen Colbert might refer to as “likeableness.”

The workplace is a social environment as well as a place of business. Successful executives recognize this dualism and expend as much effort developing friendly relationships as they do in performing their jobs well.

People like to work with people they like

Tim Sander’s book, "The Likeability Factor", and an article in the June 2005 Harvard Business Review entitled, "Competent Jerks & Loveable Fools" bring home this point. One of the earth-shattering discoveries … when people are divided into smart/not smart and likeable/not likeable, the most successful are those executives who are perceived as both smart and likeable.

I call that insight into the obvious.

Interestingly though, the preference for working with people perceived as dumb and likeable scored higher than working with smart people who weren’t likable.

I’ve coached some highly accomplished executives who would disagree with that, given their strong belief that success should be predicated exclusively on performance. But the workplace is not a pure meritocracy … and, as the studies show, being liked is a critical success factor.

Increasing your “likeableness”

We don’t see ourselves as others do. And in corporations, where nothing is truer than the axiom “perception equals reality”… critical, honest feedback is vital to seeing yourself the way others do.

Cultivate people in your organization that you trust and include those whose positions are up, down and sideways from yours. Ask and encourage them to be brutally candid with you. Convince them that you want to hear it all … the good, the bad and the ugly. Listen to everything they say and when necessary, make personal changes.

The formula

Career advancement requires both good work and good relationships. Mathematically, that equation could be seen as: Success = Albert Einstein + Forrest Gump.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

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