Leadership and likeability

Q: When I took over the group, I inherited the most unlikeable person. Firing this person is not an option because morale is already low and retention is a problem.  How do I make this group a team?  

A:  You can’t lead someone if you don’t like them and the opposite is true, they won’t follow you if they don’t like you.  Leading and following is based on relate-ability and being related is based on likeability.  Sounds simple, but many clients initially reject this reality and say,  “I am good at hiding my feelings, they don’t know how I feel about them.” 

Of course, that is not true.  To test this belief, think about a time you were with a person and you knew they didn’t like you.  So, if you can tell how someone feels, why do you think that they can’t tell?  We almost always get the message.   No hiding your feelings.  So, step back – clear the slate– and take another look at this person:

  • What does this person do that you value?
  • Does this individual have specific expertise or competency that you need for the group’s success?
  • What are the strengths and value of this individual’s social network or professional connections?
  • What is this person’s professional ambition? Aspirations?
  • Who does this person get along with? What are the qualities that others see that you may have overlooked?

You will have to suspend judgement to give this relationship a second chance.  And it will be up to you to do the work—don’t expect the other person to change:  The leader always sets the tone for the group.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, go ahead and give it a try:  some of the strongest relationships emerge from the most unlikely beginnings. 




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