We all know that leaders need people who will follow them, and so many great leaders are well-known for their likeability. The leaders of multinationals like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the CEOs of Google and Nike all have rave reviews from their staff. If this isn’t a good reason to become a likeable leader, we don’t know what is.

It’s easy to see why business leaders with superb people skills have a competitive edge. We all want to be around someone who is likeable, so it makes sense that teams are more loyal and willing to work harder for an agreeable manager. A perk for extremely likeable leaders is that they find it easy to attract new clients and maintain long-lasting relationships with little effort.

Sounds ideal, right?

The Follow Factor: 7 Steps to Becoming a More Likeable Leader

The Follow Factor: 7 Steps to Becoming a More Likeable Leader

People skills can often take more time to learn than technical abilities, but the results make the investment well worth it.

So, what is a likeable leader? And how do you become one? We’ve broken it down into a few tips that you can begin to apply today, along with a few quotes from great leaders to help inspire you.

1. Be real

Integrity is an essential component of being likeable. If you are only likeable at face value people will soon figure it out. Lying just to seem nice won’t get anyone far. Obviously, if you are thinking negative thoughts about someone, it might not be the best idea to share them, or at least you should reflect on how to share them. But with work and business matters, make sure you are transparent. In the long run, people appreciate honesty more, and you will find that as soon as you start being truthful, people will return the favor by telling you the truth too.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

– Albert Einstein (read more quotes)

2. Listen

This might sound obvious, but it can be harder than you think. However, with practice, you can easily connect with the people you work with, and everyone will benefit because of it. Most people aren’t good at listening. We are too busy thinking about what we’ll say next to really absorb what someone is telling us. But if you ask questions and really listen to the answers, people will quickly start to like you.

3. Use positive body language

There’s nothing like a winning smile for getting people to like you. Follow this up with eye contact and you’ve got the ideal combination. You will draw people to you like children to ice cream if you use an enthusiastic tone, have open hand gestures and lean towards the person you’re speaking to. You will radiate positivity with your body signals and people will automatically like you, even if you’ve not spoken to them.

When you understand how to use positive body language, it’s also much easier to read other people’s body signals and see how they are reacting to you.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou (read more quotes)

How to be a more likeable leader

4. Say sorry

No matter what the context, even if you’re sure you were in the right, always be the first to apologize. People can hold grudges for years, over tiny minutiae. To stop this from happening, step forward and say sorry. This will diffuse the tension. You will then become the person who makes grudges disappear, not the one who exacerbates them.

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

– Eleanor Roosevelt (read more quotes)

5. Use inclusive language

This is one we often forget. It’s easy to call the people you work with employees or even subordinates, but this kind of blanket phrase doesn’t include their individual and unique talents. A subordinate is not respected by their manager. Before you know it, subordinates will be fleeing to new jobs where they feel they will be respected. However, if you give your team nicknames, you’ll promote positivity and give the idea that you respect their contribution. Great names you might use are ‘The Midnight Knights’ for the late-shift staff, ‘Cubicle Kings’ and the ‘Awesome Admins’. You get the gist. Your language impacts how people feel and so whether they like you and stay within the company.

6. Don’t steal the limelight

It’s easy to do. Many leaders are known as microphone grabbers and tireless attention seekers, but if you resist your natural leader inclination to always be the focus of the room, people will notice and will be grateful for it. They will like you for allowing them to speak.

7. Work on you

This might sound counterproductive, but hear us out. If we practice mindfulness at work or at home and developing emotional intelligence, we can deal with stress more effectively and are then less likely to take it out on those we work with. People like a positive person, but stay realistic.  

How do you want to be remembered? Ask yourself this question every day and you’ll soon find that you’re acting in a way that benefits everyone you meet, as well as yourself. After all, being a great leader is about making a commitment to treat others with respect, so it makes sense that people like someone who values them.