Being Liked in the Board Room

Do you?  Some of the tougher ladies among us might say, “no.”

But you know what?  Most of us do want to be liked.  So do men as a matter of fact.

And yet, it seems that even after acquiring Scholarships, MBA’s, PhD’s and promotions, we still feel like a vulnerable 5th grader, hoping we will find a friend to have lunch with at school.

The desire to be liked creates a conundrum for women in the workplace.  

It looks as if after years of “progress,” we are not really budging an inch when it comes to changing the “likability/success” equation for women.

According to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.  In other words, the more successful we are as women, the more we may find ourselves munching our peanut butter and jelly sandwich, alone on the playground.

As the daughters of women who broke down workplace barriers in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, we may find it unnerving that we are still fighting this fight.  It seems that all the bra-burning, protesting, bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, has not really earned us a seat at the likability table.

But what can we do about this?

What some women do, is to “dumb down” their own success by limiting themselves in the workplace.  (Sheryl Sandberg gave a wonderful TED Talk on this topic:  Why we have too few women leaders.)

But this can’t be the answer.

We want it all – to be successful and liked.  Is this so much to ask? 

We are happy that people admire us for our success but we also want to be treated like a trusted colleague.  Like Sally Field holding her Oscar, we want to be able to exclaim; “You like me, you really like me” after each and every success – and know it’s true.

And this is not just a woman’s issue. 

What about the men who have chosen to stay home with their kids, while their wives go to work?  They are facing an uphill battle too.

Some moms just don’t know what to do with a guy who shows up armed with dance bags and after-school snacks, ready to start the after school activity taxi service.  (Here’s the answer ladies:  Get him involved in a car-pool, ASAP!)

  • So how do we navigate the growing pains on both sides of the fence?
  • How can we help ourselves, other women and the men in our lives too?
  • How can you be liked for your agile climb to the top and be invited out for drinks with your office-mates?

Coach Me Quick Tips for Raising the Likability Factor for All of Us:

1.  Notice any prejudice you may have about successful women.

We are all a product of our culture and the more we can become aware of our own prejudice, the more we can allow it to fall away.

2.  If there is a woman that you admire for her talent and success, acknowledge her.

The more we embrace and acknowledge successful women, the more we will create that success in ourselves and our world.

3.  If you see a man taking on a non-traditional role, befriend him.

Invite him to come over for a coffee while your kids play together.

4.  Notice the decisions you are making for yourself in the workplace.

Where are you limiting yourself?  Where can you begin to expand?

5.  Listen to Sheryl Sandberg’s talk (Why we have too few women leaders) and claim your seat at the table.

Getting out there in L.A.,


Photo credit: Christina Saint Marche via Compfight