Monday, November 17, 2008

Please Like Me

I got critiqued at work the other day for wanting people to like me.

Now let’s get one thing clear - I do NOT want everyone to like me; that would be creepy. Believe me, not all folks do (I can hear my friends snickering).

My job, however, is about having folks at least tolerate me - I’m a relationship manager! (one of many hats)

You can get any job done without being liked. You cannot get a job done effectively without being liked.

For example, last week I went to Holts to get some make up. I booked an appointment with Loida at the Laura Mercier counter (shameless plug for her) even though I planned to buy Prescriptives.

Anyone could have answered my questions, shown me product, taken my money and guided me through the exchange. How many times have you had such an exchange? Do you remember the sales person’s name - or even their face?

If you liked them you do.

I don’t mean the blurry line between the professional and the personal. Loida doesn’t know where I work or what my latest drama is. I have no idea about her life either except that she runs the Laura Mercier counter and has recently stopped wearing all black - though I don’t know why. Our relationship is strictly professional.

It’s beyond service. I like her. I like her attitude towards her work. I like the way she questions my choices. I like that she offers an honest opinion. (No one else could have talked me into turquoise eye liner!) I like her - and in this case that liking means I trust, respect and enjoy her. I don’t have to invite her out for coffee to cement the relationship.

No one, except people we like (read: trust; respect; enjoy), can get us to offer information or support.

Think about it. We spend most of our waking hours (and some of our sleeping ones) with people we like. We walk into a room and seek them out to sit with them. We take breaks with them. We do them favours. We share ideas. We care if their work/day/project/life is going awry.

A project manager can bring a project to deadline while stepping all over everyone she knows. A project manager who builds relationships will have both added benefits in her project (possibly less resource issues or deadline problems) and will be all set with a strong network to bring the next project in with even bigger results.

Business has been branding managers and executives in many personality buckets for a few decades. At every turn, the manager who tries to be liked is considered less effective and not as strong a leader.

That may be true if they need everyone to like them personally. But let’s challenge conventional thinking. Let’s point out that good leadership (and mentoring and management) is supported by being liked.

We’ve established we’re all more effective with a community behind us. How on earth does one build a community if one isn’t liked??

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