The Likability Factor



It would be really easy for this blog post to sink into the premise that maybe you aren’t seeing success in your career or business because people just don’t like you, and here are five articles on how to fix that.

That’s not what we’re talking about here.

The likability factor in terms of measurable success is more complex. It’s not just about people liking you. It’s about making sure you can stand in your authentic self, be honest about what you value in terms of career success, and make genuine connections as you navigate your professional development.

People gravitate to someone who has professional boundaries, and a person with that level of confidence becomes more magnetic. When you show up with a clear idea of who you are and who you are not, you will gravitate to work that is truly rewarding, and the people you attract will be well positioned to help you as you progress in your career.

With that, here are five articles on what it means to be likable.

1. The secret to likability.

This is a fantastic article from HigherEd Jobs that gets to the heart of what it means to truly show up as your authentic self by, “deferring the spotlight from oneself, being in tune with others, and fostering authentic connections.”

2. Why likability gets you hired and promoted.

This article from The Globe and Mail outlines what that likability factor looks like and gives sound advice on how to capitalize on any one of the elements covered in the article.

3. Popularity at work still matters whether we like it or not.

If you’d like to see a perspective on how likability can go horribly wrong, check out this article from BBC. The author, Mitch Prinstein, goes into the differences between having likability and having status — two very different goals. Fair warning, if you find yourself in a culture like the one outlined in this article, my advice is to do some soul-searching and decide if this is really the place for you.

4. Ten instant ways to be more likable. 

Here is a great article from The Muse that actually provides additional links to more online material related to likability. If you find that you’d like to make some adjustments to the way you show up at work, you’ll definitely find some great material in this article.

5. Competent jerks and lovable fools. 

I saved the best for last. Heidi LaFleche from Monster does a great job of outlining the differences of the four workplace personality types — lovable star, lovable fool, competent jerk, and incompetent jerk. And if you’re interested in reading the original research, feel free to check out the Harvard Business Review article by Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo.

As you can see, likability can have a two-pronged effect. It’s not just about working on our own likability, it’s also about understanding someone else’s likability (or lack thereof) and adjusting accordingly. Are you finding that you struggle with being heard or seen? Do you feel eclipsed by someone else’s turn in the spotlight? Are you actually working with some lovable fools? If you find you’re struggling these days, then there may be a likability issue. Take some time to assess the situation before you plot your next move.


Christina Holloway is an executive coach and business coach. She helps executives and entrepreneurs grow their companies faster, create results-driven teams, and increase profitability. She has been featured in ForbesThe Huffington PostAddicted2Success and Fast Company. If you’re interested in working with Christina, take a look at her strategy sessions and contact her to get started.

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Christina Holloway