12 Most Standout Ways To Be Likeable

12 Most Standout Ways To Be Likeable

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. Below are the 12 most important principles to integrate into your work and life to optimize success:

1. Listening

Listening is the foundation of any good business. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors.

2. Storytelling

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. A likeable leader has a strong vision and purpose and always has stories to sell that vision.

3. Authenticity

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Likeable leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers — and a happier you.

5. Team playing

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness

Today’s leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Responding shows you care and gives your customers and employees a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on your company.

7. Adaptability

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and delight

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money. We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

10. Simplicity

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so the likeable leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great, and karma is always returned to the bottom line.

12. The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable?

Featured image courtesy of Thomas Hawk licensed via Creative Commons.

Dave Kerpen


Dave Kerpen is the CEO of award-winning social media agency Likeable Media and the author of the New York Times Best Selling book Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, & Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks). His latest book Likeable Business: Why Today's Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver is now available. You can also follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveKerpen.

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I'm glad Listening came before Storytelling. In my case, I was a lot better at storytelling than listening (Texas Tall Tales...my story is always bigger type of problem). With maturity, I got better at listening which then helped me craft stories and recall anecdotes that were better received by the audience - whether it is an audience of one or many.

And I got over the one-upsmanship...unless it's sports, and well...my teams are better!

Enjoyed the rest of your list, too.


These are just great and one thing that stands out is the importance of not being the most important one.

It's about skills (could even be tactics you practice, that become your skills) in making others more important to you in the relationship and then, you WILL be likeable...


Hi Dave ~ I love your 12 Likeable tips! It's not easy to pick the most important one, as they are all important to me. But, if I had to pick one, I'd go for treat others as you'd like to be treated. Your post reminds me of a book I once read by John P. Strelecky "The BIG Five for Life". It's a story of one man and leadership's greatest secret. This book tells the story about Thomas Derale, a businessman whose companies make fortunes, his people love him and his customers are willing to wait weeks to do business with him. This book shows us that (and I quote) "...successful leaders are not in the business of business - they are in the business of life". Thanks again for your 12 tips! My best, Juan :)