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27 Secrets of Likeable Leaders

If you are aspiring for senior leadership in 2020, you need to take stock of your social capital – or your likeability factor. Are you generally well-liked by staff, peers and superiors in your company?


You may argue that leadership is not a popularity contest. But to lead successfully in the modern business setting, you need to prioritise winning organisational trust and cooperation over outcomes.


To define what it means to be likeable in this context, consider Nick’s case, a former CFO turned CEO in a medium-sized financial consulting firm. Nick was the obvious choice – he is the biggest brain in the company and has contributed immensely to its strategic growth.


Within a month into the role, the company’s account management team complained to the board that Nick was an exceptional finance guy with zero social intelligence.


The board was optimistic that he will gradually ease into his new role and learn the social skills to lead effectively. But Nick realised that a CEO urgently needed to manage critical relationships, or the business will tank. Recognising that it will take him a long time to adapt, Nick resigned as CEO and retreated to his old job.


Nick’s lack of social intelligence has emerged as the make-or-break leadership quality. Technical smarts and strategic mastery allowed him to be an outstanding individual contributor. But to be an effective CEO, he needed to artfully navigate through complex social constructs – a challenge he was ill-equipped for.


It is worth pointing out that being likeable is not the only trait that makes a leader great. But it is one of those areas that, with some practice, everyone can improve in, therefore making it an important area for development for many current and aspiring leaders.


In our previous post on The Leadership Qualities That Matter, the leaders surveyed have identified communication as the most critical skill to have in your leadership tool kit. And the ability to communicate powerfully is inextricably linked to social influence and likeability. It is the secret sauce of highly successful leaders.


It may be too late for Nick, but you can start to learn the communication habits of likeable people to influence, inspire and lead successfully. And for that you can turn to the 1937 classic – How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.


Over the years of speaking with and listening to some of the country’s top leaders, we’ve discovered 3 critical areas where success as a leader is paramount: being likeable, convincing others to accept your way of thinking, and providing high quality feedback.


Here are 27 secrets that leaders should learn if they want to be effective and successful in running a team or organisation.



Social influence and likeability are all about cultivating trust and meaningful engagement. Learn how you can grow your influence and motivate people to succeed from Australia’s most inspirational leaders. Reserve your spot for The Authentic Leadership Summit 2020.


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20