Charn McAllister is an Assistant Professor of Management and Organizational Development at D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. Earlier in his career, Charn served in the US Army as a helicopter pilot and troop commander during two deployments in Iraq. He joins Marcel Schwantes on this week’s show to talk about why being a likable leader matters and how it leads to results.
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- “Really good leadership,” Charn argues, “involves being liked… treating [your subordinates] with respect and being a good person, which leads to being liked.” [6:00]
- Likability undercuts every leadership theory, Charn points out. If your subordinates like you, they rate you as a better leader. [7:00]
- The Leadership Affect Questionnaire (LAQ) measures how much subordinates like their leaders. Marcel and Charn discuss how the LAQ works. [8:41]
- If your leader scores low on the LAQ, think about what they do to merit such a low score, and endeavor not to repeat those behaviors in your own leadership style, Charn advises. Bad leaders teach us what not to do. Also, if you can find a kind way to give feedback, take the opportunity, Charn advises. Many leaders aren’t aware of what they’re doing wrong, so your feedback can help them correct their path. [11:46]
- Everyone can be likable, Charn believes. “It’s somewhat of a choice… Treat people as we would want to be treated…we become more likable by treating people with respect and treating them as people.” [13:33]
- “If all you are is a transaction between you and your subordinates, that’s all that relationship will ever become. When you actually create care for each other and understanding between the two, that’s how you become likable… We want to like the person who we know and understand and they understand us in return,” Charn says. [15:45]
- Marcel comments that research proves that soft skills such as empathy lead to high achievement in the workplace. He paraphrases author Tom Peters, “Soft skills are the new hard skills.” [16:57]
- Charn describes leadership as a tightrope. Treating people with respect sometimes means making concessions; however, a good relationship with your subordinates also puts them under the obligation to perform at their best. “By creating these relationships and becoming likable, I think you’re increasing the performance of the entire team,” Charn says. [18:08]
- Marcel and Charn discuss being a likable leader in challenging times such as the current pandemic. Charn advocates having the difficult conversations about the next steps. Let your employees know that you’re thinking about them and you care for them. Marcel agrees that radical honesty about what’s happening – even if it’s bad news – is vital. “But,” he says, “also be there to let them know that you are backing them up, that you are supporting them along the way until this thing is over.” [19:33]
- Leadership is about unlocking potential. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Leaders can help give them that sense of purpose. [24:48]
- Having a mutually respectful relationship with your subordinates makes them respect you more, not less. [27:50]
- The first step a leader should take to build a relationship with subordinates is to humbly ask for feedback, and then take action on it. This builds trust, Charn points out. Eventually, both parties will feel committed to each other’s success. [30:51]
- Charn advises listeners to have empathy for each other. “We’re all people. We all have these battles and struggles that we’re going through,” he reminds us. [35:12]
- Marcel’s takeaway for listeners is: “We are in a soft skills economy, especially now with the spread of the virus. You have to respond with empathy, kindness, respect, flexibility, and meet people’s needs where they’re at. Those are the leaders that are going to rise up in the face of crisis.” [37:10]
- Charn McAllister on LinkedIn
- Personal Website – charnmcallister.com
- Harvard Business Review article: “Why Likable Leaders Seem More Effective“
- Upcoming Book – “Political Skill at Work: How to Influence, Motivate, and Win Support”
- Dr. Nate Regier: A New Way To Think About Conflict (Episode #41)
- Chester Elton: Gratitude Makes a Difference (Episode #46)
- John Eades: Leading By Elevating Others (Episode #34)
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