This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
How might one coach Donald Trump, the media phenom who happens to be running for the most powerful office on the planet? Politically focused media continuously report that "The Donald" faces challenges with his likeability factor.
To win a vote of confidence in a democratic society, likeability is one fuel that drives followers' perceptions around trust, loyalty and respect. People who don't find a leader likeable withhold their confidence.
Trump is not alone. Many senior leaders who are highly talented and skilled fail. Why? One reason is that followers just do not like their leaders. One option for leaders interested in winning the confidence of their employees is to hire an executive coach to improve their likeability.
Senior leaders who hire an executive coach do so for several reasons. Executive coaching provides a trusted adviser to help leaders achieve a specific developmental objective.
Three core factors that influence a leader's likeability are:
Personality – represents non-trainable attributes. Attributes such as humility, self-confidence, drive and persistence are innate. Followers typically want to see their senior leaders having these kinds of attributes. Leaders who are overtly arrogant, ego-driven, lie and are dismissive of others often are perceived as overbearing, untrustworthy and unsupportive, which can have a negative influence on how their followers view them.
Competency – there is a required level of intelligence to be viewed by followers. Followers want to know that their senior leaders are competent and capable of presenting facts and demonstrating expertise in their subject topic areas. This ultimately defines the level of confidence followers put in their senior leaders' competency. Senior leaders who are found to be continuously wrong, incompetent, make decisions without the right facts, or are unwilling to be corrected quickly lose credibility as being competent. Followers want to believe their leaders have the skills to solve complex problems and make good decisions.
Emotional Intelligence – how well a senior leader manages their emotions and maintains their composure under pressure are important for followers. Followers want to know their senior leaders stay calm in the eye of turmoil and make decisions without being influenced by powerful emotions. Senior leaders who are not able to remain calm, overreact under pressure and fail to consider how their actions are impacting onlookers are at risk for losing followers' trust.
How followers score a leader in each of the above factors influences the degree of likeability.
Trump has demonstrated competency and self-confidence in the business world. However, some question his facts, personality, outbursts and comments. Followers or individuals who are not Trump fans will have different scores.
Does Trump's likeability factor need to be improved for him to win the U.S. election? The only person who can answer that question is Trump. If he doesn't believe it matters, he most likely will not change. However, if he does, he may decide he needs to change. To change, one needs to see its value and this acts as motivation to take action and learn.
Coaching a senior leader to improve their likeability factor
It begins with the question, "Are you concerned about your likeability factor?" This will uncover what the senior leader thinks and believes is the importance of being liked by followers and what likeability means.
For senior leaders to accept coaching on the likeability factor they must first be convinced that it matters. Likeable people facilitate experiences when interacting with others and this promotes them as being people who are easy to accept and like. To be liked by others, one must act in a way that others perceive as safe and pleasing. The more senior leaders are perceived by followers as being authentic and open, the more others will share and give.
To begin coaching on this factor the first step is an honest self-reflection. To do this, senior leaders can complete the Likeability Quick Survey. They can print their results, share them with a few trusted sources, and then review them with their coach.
Coaching can facilitate an honest conversation with respect to how likeability directly influences senior leaders' experience with their peers and reports in the workplace.
Likeability may not be at the core of leadership guru coach Stephen Covey's seven habits of highly effective people, but how we treat others is a critical factor and predictor of being highly effective.
The likeability factor thesis will be tested in November and the world will see if Trump wins because of Trump or loses because of his likeability factor.
Bill Howatt is chief research & development officer, workplace productivity, Morneau Shepell, Halifax