The Real Secret To Getting Ahead

The likability facet that I am speaking about is that used to influence, lead, develop, build rapport, sustain relationships and gain credibility.

We live in world full of technically proficient people. You know these folks-they are at the top of their game when it comes to performing the duties of their jobs, they are the subject matter experts and the leaders in their industries. But would you believe me if I told you that technically ability was only about 20% of their success? The secret to getting ahead is becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace today. It’s often the deciding factor whether someone gets hired or if someone gets promoted. It’s a huge facet in leadership, influence and impact. It’s a skill often not talked about in school and other professional development forums. It’s something that many including myself have had to learn the hard way. I’d like to include a cute little story about my own experience but I’ve decided to just get straight to the point.

The secret is likability. 

Now before you shoot this idea down, read to the end. How many times have you left an interview feeling like “you just didn’t get a good vibe” or you struggled as a manager because “you couldn’t connect with your employees”? These are just two very simple examples of likeability. The likeability I am speaking about is not to be confused with being the “most popular” or number of “likes” on social media accounts. The likability facet that I am speaking about is that used to influence, lead, develop, build rapport, sustain relationships and gain credibility.

Like any other skill, likability is one that can be taught, but only if you are willing to learn. Below are some traits that can enhance your likeability factor:

The likability facet that I am speaking about is that used to influence, lead, develop, build rapport, sustain relationships and gain credibility.

Being  Authentic

Brene Brown says “Authenticity is a daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are”. When I think of authentic people, I think about those who are honest, who are transparent and who have a genuine concern for others. Let’s assume that you are in the market for purchasing a new car. You go to one dealership and there is a pushy salesman who tries to sell you the lemon that’s been sitting on the lot for months. You go to the second dealer and you meet the salesman who listens to your needs, is open about the features of the car and doesn’t make you feel pressured. Who are you likely to purchase from? Who are you likely to send your family and friends to?

Being Respectful              

  • Likeability encompasses the EI to know that people will have different opinions, thoughts and ideas than yours but you still respect them. Your approach can also play a huge role in whether others consider you likeable. Consider the sales example I used earlier. No one wants to work with anyone who only pushes their agenda. Someone who can’t admit when they don’t know something or someone who thinks they know it all. Not knowing something humanizes you. It breaks down the wall of perfection and allows an opportunity for others to provide solutions. And guess what? That’s okay.

Finding Commonalities

  • Think about why you follow people on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn. You follow them because you all have something in common. It could be a company you want to work for. It could be that you admire something about the person and you find them interesting. We follow people that we don’t know consistently on these social media platforms but have difficulty finding something in common from human interaction. There is always something that you can find in common with each person you come in contact with.

Before I go…

  • Some of you reading this will disagree with me and say that it’s not important for people to like you. You will argue that your technical abilities alone will land you the job. You will argue that being technically proficient and a subject matter expert in your role will get you promoted, make your team follow you and establish credibility. Some of you will argue that doing a good job is all it takes to achieve real success. If not for anything, I hope this article will generate some conversation about whether likeability is really important or not.   And while I can appreciate the differing opinion, I challenge you to think about the following statements:
  • I often worked late for a boss/co-worker I didn’t like because…….
  • I recently hired a candidate who was technically qualified but not a cultural fit and that worked out……
  • I recently did business with a pushy salesman and I felt…….
  • The candidate I interviewed did not have all the skills but I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with them and want to hire them because……………

This list could go on but no matter how much we’d like to ignore it or say that it doesn’t matter, we tend to do business with people, hire people, promote people, develop people and interact with people that we like.

What are your thoughts? Do you think likeability is a key factor in getting ahead?