07/01/2013 12:16 pm ET

Professional Women and Likeability: Does It Matter?


I care more than just a little bit about likability in business. In fact, I strongly believe that if a business doesn’t have likeable products, services, or business practices, this will be reflected in the (increasingly public) customer feedback and, ultimately, the viability of the company. In the end, businesses that can figure out how to be likeable, even when facing challenging times, will win.

But is the same true of people in business–specifically, women? In Sheryl Sandberg‘s book, Lean In, she discusses how “success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” The higher on the corporate ladder a woman climbs, the less likeable she is perceived to be. In the case of a man, the opposite holds true. Sandberg presents a massive amount of data to support this fact. So massive, in fact, that when anyone attempts to compile data in order to prove a case to the contrary, her research team will come and put them right in their place, calling their conclusion “indefensible.”

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