A question that is often asked is whether it matters for leaders to be likeable as long as they are getting the job done?
The initial reaction to this question is often no – the most important thing for a leader is to successfully perform their role. “Are you a likeable person?” is not a question usually asked of a prospective CEO in an interview. However, as Forbes statistics show, it does help; 79% of employees will quit their jobs due to a lack of appreciation from leaders, whilst 70% of employees are unhappy in their jobs due to negative management. Furthermore, our own LinkedIn research demonstrates that 95% of respondents thought it was important for leaders to be likeable and not just have an ability to do the job well.
The long-term implications for organisations of having an “unlikeable leader” are significant, with the biggest one being the impact on employee motivation. Whilst respect and trust are likely to be considered more important qualities of a leader than likeability per se, they often go hand in hand.
True leaders are respected and trusted. These qualities are achieved much more easily by individuals who inspire and motivate their employees by being personable and relatable rather than being dictatorial and fearful.
Undoubtedly, an organisation will achieve success with an authoritative leadership in place because in the short term, individuals will perform and deliver due to their fear of the consequences. However, it will not make for a particularly happy, healthy, or productive workforce. This in turn will result in low employee morale and a high propensity to search for other roles and leave the organisation as soon as they can.
Therefore, longer term, the organisation will suffer significantly from high employee turnover and an inability to retain employees, exacerbating productivity issues and the low morale of the remaining employees.
The substantial costs of recruitment are well known in terms of actual financial cost as well as the time and productivity impact. In addition, the introduction of employee review sites such as Glassdoor will only serve to compound the challenge of recruitment for those organisations with an autocratic leadership. This is because existing and departed employees are highly likely to write negative reviews of the organisation.
Furthermore, in the current employee driven market where so many sectors are struggling to find the right talent, it’s even more crucial to ensure existing employees are kept happy.
A likeable leader is much more likely to be a respected and trusted leader. They ensure their employees feel inspired and motivated, which in turn will be rewarded with maximum productivity and, even more importantly in such an employee driven market – loyalty.