Why You Should Care if You’re a Likable Boss

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How much does it really matter if your employees like you? Is there a correlation between results and how well employees like their bosses?

“Most people assume it is possible to be an effective leader without being likable,” writes forbes.com. But the reality is that likability and leadership effectiveness are tied together. Forbes writer Jack Zenger mentions research that shows only 1 in 2,000 cases of a highly unlikable boss in the top quartile of overall effectiveness. (Hopefully “highly unlikable” is a rare boss.)  

So what’s included in being likable? And isn’t it sort of subjective?

According to thehrspecialist.com, employees aren’t looking to their bosses for friendship, emotional support or unbridled cheeriness. Instead, they want honesty, fairness, respect, appreciation and responsiveness.  

Consider your own career and the bosses you’ve had. The best and worst (that “highly unlikable” one in particular) may stand out. Now consider how it affected your work, your attitude, your loyalty and how long you stayed there. The volume and quality of an employee’s work might not immediately be affected by the boss-employee relationship. However, a poor relationship could make the employee unhappy enough to start looking for a new job … with the competitor.

Two key components of likability identified in a psychologytoday.com article are sense of humor and listening well.

Humor comes with both mental and physical benefits. “Laughing triggers the release of endorphins—hormones and enzymes that serve as natural painkillers for your body.” Laughing makes us feel good, in turn making us more productive. And because emotions are contagious … soon you’ll have a workplace full of positivity drawing others toward you.

Need to brush up on your sense of humor? Check out these fantastic Psychology Today suggestions to get you started:

  • People watch for 5 minutes a day … focusing on our human tendency to take ourselves too seriously. Really stop to see the humor in the things people do.
  • Take a 5-minute humor break each day … thinking of things that make you laugh. (There are plenty of ridiculous memes or goofy animal videos on Pinterest® to get you started.)
  • Start team meetings with a joke. This type of light start helps set a positive tone for the group.

Listen well. Most of us think we already do this …. But, just because we have ears doesn’t make us good listeners. Start thinking of listening as collecting information (rather than giving advice).

Related articles on listening well:             

Say the Right Thing … When Listening to Someone

Take This Quiz to See if You’re Really a Good Listener

We’re hearing … but are we listening?

Your likability is important when you’re the boss. And being likable includes a lot of simple, common-sense qualities that demonstrate respect and honesty toward others. But working on your sense of humor and listening can enhance your ability to connect with employees. Be successful. Never stop studying ways to make yourself more likable.


Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.