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The importance of being likeable

I was reading a blog post by the founder of Hub Spot the other day. One of the things that jumped out at me from the article was when he was talking about startups and how everything you need to get your startups going isn’t necessarily everything that you learned in business school. He was sort of making fun of all the complex models that you learn about in business school and how they aren’t necessarily as applicable as being able to read your bank account successfully, trying new things, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. All of it was really good and worth reading but what really jumped out at me was he when he talks about the importance of being likable. It really hit home with me because to some degree, as a leader, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have tough times, especially in a startup environment. So I think it really is important that you be likable.

You’re going to need to suffer through some times that aren’t ideal and you’re going to need people to believe in you. More importantly, you need people who want to succeed with you and want to play a part of helping you and the rest of the team get over the hump. I think that the importance of likability is undersold to a large degree within today’s marketplace. You read so many articles about the next big way for marketing your company, the next big way of inspiring innovation within your team, and things like that but I think he had it right saying without the likability factor those next big things are much harder to achieve. It was so simple which is maybe why we don’t think about it but I don’t think you can understate how important it is in terms of inspiring real results. Being likeable is a lot of the grease that gets things done. It is the stuff that helps people get through the hard times and I think that’s really important.

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Henry Brown

Yes but….Likeabilty like grease; too much of it will “gum up the works” and if applied at the wrong time will splash back on you and not help the process along.

Marian Henderson

People buy things from people that they like. You can probably expand this to say that people are more apt to listen to people that they like. The proverbial foot in the door when it comes to sales.

Joshua Millsapps

Henry – I love the way you put that…I was thinking more along the lines of Marian when I wrote it. Essentially, that people sometimes tune out those they don’t care for or don’t put out the same effort. I take your point about it being a problem if applied to liberally and without a dose of boundaries and logic.

Priscilla Anderson

I agree, as long as you are not just a yes man. Likeable is positive, caring, kind, and mature, not wishy washy. So I think you make a great point!

Scott Kearby

I agree that being likeable helps because business involves people and that means relationships count … but I think likeable doesn’t fully encompass what is really needed.

I once heard Lou Holtz speak about relationships and I think he has boiled it down to the essentials.

“There are three things that people want to know in any relationship with a leader, a friend, a coach, a spouse … [and I think you can add store, business, vendor, office … your relationship could be with one or more individuals who represent the larger organization, for you they are the “face” of the organization]

1. Can I trust you?

2. Are you committed to excellence?

3. Do you care about me?

If you answer yes to all three then you will have a successful relationship, if you answer no to any one then you will have a problem in the relationship.” paraphrased from Lou Holtz, College Football Coach

Joshua Millsapps

I’m not a Notre Dame fan, but I can respect the sentiment from coach Holtz. This boils it down pretty well.

Dick Davies

Two great points. I recently sat with a funder who was disappointed that his investments didn’t follow his business plan. He was confusing a model with reality. If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plan.

Second, likable counts. Where we start has nothing to do with what we must accomplish, and we have to make more out of every day. Being liked greases that.

Nice post!