Leadership

12 timeless habits of likable leaders

President Barack Obama
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
President Barack Obama

Think back to the leaders in your life that you liked. They were also the ones who were most successful, right? According to an article in Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge, "Fool vs. Jerk: Whom Would You Hire?" research shows that no matter the organization or industry, everyone wants to work with a "loveable star" who combines competence and likability. Leaders with a high emotional intelligence are also those that significantly outperform those who aren't able to manage emotions — their own and others — according to research data from TalentSmart.

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Although we always sensed it, leading with an iron fist is not the strategy for long-term success. In pursuit of being more likable, because this is something you can completely control, let's look at some of the timeless habits of likable leaders.

1. They have integrity

Actions speak louder than words for likable leaders, so they don't just talk about integrity they demonstrate it. Codes of values and ethics aren't just empty promises on the wall, likable leaders commit to them.

2. Give time generously

Even though likable leaders are very busy, they interact with people even when they don't need anything done. There's no hidden agenda. They also do this in an authentic way, so people feel valued, rather than just a checkmark on a to-do list.

3. They are humble

Even though successful leaders have much to brag about, likable leaders don't exhibit arrogance. In fact, they recognize the gifts of others on their team for contributing to their success.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

4. They are steady

Likable leaders are even-keeled and know there will be ups and downs in business. They don't overreact and are predictable in their responses to any triggers. Their steadiness in the face of challenges allows those they lead to react in a similar way.

5. They form connections

Likable leaders never forget they are dealing with humans and never miss an opportunity to form a personal connection with those they interact with, even when it's in a crowded room.

6. They are positive

Likable leaders are positive in words and actions. They are grateful for every opportunity and enthusiastic about the possibilities of each day. That positivity is tantalizing to the people they lead and makes a huge impact.

7. They are generous

Likable leaders want nothing more than to help you succeed. They are generous with their time, resources and connections to help those they lead become the best possible versions of themselves.

8. They listen

Likable leaders take the time to listen for understanding. When they interact with people, they focus the conversation on the other people and not make it about them as the leader.

9. They are focused

When likable leaders are in the room, they dedicate their attention to the task at hand. Yes, this means arriving on time, putting phones away and respecting the individuals in the room as well as the objective of the meeting.

10. They work hard, but have fun

All work and no play makes for a very unlikable leader. People who can laugh, have fun and maintain a healthy balance between work and life are much more likable leaders.

11. They are honest

People want honesty and constructive criticism. Likable leaders deliver both. They don't avoid difficult conversations because they keep the best interests of the individuals top of mind. Even if dishonestly isn't recognized at first, it's only a matter of time that it will be. Likable leaders know that honesty is always the best policy.

12. They make mistakes

Likable leaders are human just like the rest of us, and when they acknowledge their mistakes it makes their humanity tangible for the rest of us. Powerful leaders can sometimes be elevated to super-star status, so when we realize they are human just like us, it helps us connect.

Remember, you can become a likable leader. All of the habits I listed here are learnable. Not only are likable leaders valuable to their organizations, they are also successful. What would you add to my list of timeless habits of likable leaders?

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This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Barnard Marr is a Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert. His new book 'Data Strategy: How to Profit from a World of Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things' is out now. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Slideshare.

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