Building likability as a leader

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Javario Mathis
  • 56th Maintenance Group
With the multitude of professional development courses we as Airmen attend, I just wanted to hit on some regularly discussed leadership behaviors. That said, we should also be striving to improve as we grow as leaders at all levels. These tips can be helpful whether you are leading peers or subordinates. Actively working on the following behaviors will serve to boost your likability as a leader and give those around you a stronger inclination to follow you.

1.  Build personal connections: Communicate on a personal level when possible, and remember to treat people like you would want to be treated.

2.  Be approachable: Make time for people who want to speak with you and work to make them feel comfortable in the fact that you actually value their input.

3.  Be humble: A leader's arrogance can quickly destroy their likability. Utilizing a leadership position to better serve those around you, as opposed to a platform for self-praise, will go a long way with those following you. 

4.  Remain positive: People respond well to leaders with positive outlooks on situations. A leader who remains hopeful in negative situations can boost confidence in the future among the personnel involved.

5.  Be level-headed: Try to take both positives and negatives in stride and learn from both.  Enjoy success without allowing it to go to your head and acknowledge failures without letting them keep you down.
6.  Be generous: Don't be the leader who holds back knowledge or resources for fear of being outshined by your personnel. Remember we are all training our replacements and should want them to be great at what they do. You should see their successes as your success as well.

7.  Demonstrate integrity: Strive to inspire trust and admiration through your actions, as opposed to words alone. Even charming leaders will falter if they're not rooted in a foundation of integrity.   

8.  Learn to read people: Non-verbal communication is a large part of most conversations and often tells a leader more than the words coming out of a person's mouth. Being observant and taking note of indicators like facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language will help to give a much better assessment of a situation than spoken words alone ever could. 

9.  Take stock of potential: Recognizing potential in those around you is extremely important.  Bringing out the talent in those around you and working to make everyone that much better, while also getting great work accomplished is one of the greatest accomplishments a leader can boast.

10.  Have substance: Charisma is a great tool to grab people's attention. The hard part is being able to keep that attention with what you have to share. Since the success of your personnel relies heavily on your knowledge and expertise, share them both with your people regularly. If you have value-added information to share with your personnel, you will never have to toot your own horn because there will be no need.