Leadership: why worry about being likeable?

WomenAdvance.comAs Hillary Clinton attempts to battle the notion that she is not a “likeable” presidential candidate (Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be bothered that he’s a turn-off), the “likability penalty” for women has come into high relief for all women. The result? Women are encouraged to consider how they can be more accommodating, more pleasing. It’s just another way that women are pressed into double-consciousness: watching themselves being watched rather than acting. Like a leader.

I say, stop focusing on how you look to other people. As I tell me coaching clients, when you’re asking, “But what will they think of me?” you’re asking the wrong question.

I’m with Stanford professor Deborah Gruenfeld, who’s been exploring alternatives to the narrative of the likeability penalty. According to a report on a panel at Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research:

“In her work with women leaders in the executive program at the Graduate School of Business, Gruenfeld finds that too much focus on navigating the likeability penalty may limit women’s attention to the actions required to lead. The likeability penalty is only one aspect of the leadership conversation, and she encourages women to target what they can control: to be more confident in their abilities and leadership strengths. Instead of focusing on likability, women can find new ways to be successful as leaders, such as sharing what they know, ‘but in a way that is generous to the group.'”

Click here for the complete report.

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