I read an article some years ago that defined a leader as being someone who causes those around him/her to willingly go along with his/her thoughts, ideas and suggestions.
The word willingly was underscored to emphasise its meaning, as opposed to its antonym which would be unwillingly or more accurately, grudgingly.
I was fascinated by this definition and as my job brings me into contact with many people in a wide variety of fields I decided to conduct research into this topic in accordance with accepted scientific principles of practice.
I bought a lab coat, a Bunsen burner, beakers, a pocket protector, a gyroscope, radioactive isotopes, a thermometer, an MRI scanner, two Petri dishes, a pycnometer, horseradish and a canary.
I then applied for, and received, a Government Grant in the amount of $11.87.
I was ready.
Then I went and asked a bunch of people a bunch of questions.
What does a good leader mean to you?
What kind of person are you willing to go along with in terms of supporting their thoughts, ideas and suggestions?
And I listened.
And I heard the same message over and over again.
In fact, over a four month period, in asking these questions to a total of 312 people (I keep meticulous records – anal, some might say) in both group and individual settings, 274 folks (that’s 87.82% for those of you who are meticulouser than me) described a singular characteristic that would most influence or determine their degree of willingness to go along with another’s thoughts, ideas and suggestions.
And that characteristic wasn’t respect.
That word was used by many but never as a primary motivator for willingness.
And it wasn’t competence.
Competence was cited by many as a prerequisite to going along and perceptions of incompetence were also cited as sufficient reason to disqualify a candidate form leadership status.
And that characteristic wasn’t a solid track record.
Although a history of success certainly played a contributing role.
And it wasn’t intelligence. Or vision. Or street smarts.
No. It was something else.
The single human characteristic that packs the strongest punch in determining whether we will willingly go along with another person’s ideas, thoughts and suggestions is;
It seems that if we like someone we are most likely to willingly go along with them.
And when we like someone we are far more willing to forgive their transgressions, overlook their mistakes, ignore their inadequacies and cut them more slack.
Like is more powerful than respect, ranks ahead of competence and runs circles around track record.
And, of course, I asked more questions.
What makes a person likeable?
And it turns out that the following are not considered likeable traits:
Smartest guy in the room syndrome.
Need to always be right.
Those apparently are not viewed as likeable behaviours.
I’m guessing psychopathy probably wouldn’t make the cut either.
So it seems that if you want to be a leader; if you want people to willingly go along with your ideas, thoughts and suggestions, then you need to be:
Anyone out there have any ideas of what I can do to get someone – anyone – to like me?
I am punctual.
Till we read again.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the choice is yours is continuing to sell really well. It’s a humbling experience and I am truly appreciative of all those folks who have purchased my book and the more than 600 people who have sent me very flattering and complimentary emails. To all of you, Thank You.
If you would like to order the book you can email me at rael@raelkalley or you can click here to purchase it through Self Connection.