career advice, career goals, self-belief

If you’ve ever watched even a little bit of a certain reality TV show, you’ll be familiar with the over-used term ‘likeability’ factor. Being likeable certainly helps when it comes to pulling in public votes and making it through to the next round of a competition, but how important is likeability in terms of career progression? Do you have to be liked to be successful?

In the early stages of a career, it can be crucial. When you’re on the lower rungs of the ladder, the bottom line is that you need to be liked, in some capacity, to land a job in the first place. “Also known in the industry as ‘cultural fit’, likeability is a reason many candidates don’t make the final cut,” states this article in US News.

“The interviewers either didn’t like them or didn’t believe they would mesh well with current employees.”

That’s an important point. It’s not just about your manager liking you; it’s the judgement call the manager makes on whether you’ll fit in with the existing team. You don’t have to be the most likeable person in the world, but you do have to be personable, to a degree, and demonstrate the kind of attitude which will make you a trusted and reliable team member. The wrong personality and a projection of that onto colleagues could mark you out as being difficult to manage and therefore limit future opportunities.

As you progress through your career – hopefully in an upward trajectory – and begin to take on more senior positions and management roles, the requirements begin to shift a little. If you’re at the stage in your life where you are in the market for COO jobs, for example, do you need to be likeable? In the role of Chief Operating Officer, typically answerable only to the chief executive, does one need to be liked?

This article believes so. It makes the link between being likeable and developing charisma, which is a very desirable quality in the workplace. It asks, ‘Have you ever worked with a very charismatic leader? If so, then it’s likely that almost everyone in the organisation liked, trusted and admired this person.’ Being likeable is a personality trait which extends easily into other important qualities.

That sentiment is echoed in a recent piece by Forbes, which extolled the benefits of possessing an attractive attitude. Is that the same thing as being likeable? In a way, yes. Channelled in the right way, likeability can command respect and help to inspire others. It certainly help in establishing a great rapport with colleagues and staff; it can make people want to work with you, and for you. It can increase loyalty and performance.

In senior positions, being likeable is not enough to success on its own, of course. It’s often asked whether it’s more important to be liked or respected; a healthy amount of both is ideal. There will be a time when difficult decisions need to be made, sometimes the very worst of decisions – dismissing a member of staff – and being liked will stand for little then.

In short, likeability is a desirable quality but only one of several required to be an effective leader in significant management roles.