15 Habits of Well-Liked Industry Leaders

By Shelley. July 30, 2019.

Topics: Startup Marketing, Business Development

Being well-liked. It's something we all desire. And we can all think of people in our spheres whom everyone feels comfortable around and whom everyone wants to know better. These people are like magnets. How do they do it? When we break it down, it's because they've worked on and gotten really good at many, if not all of, the following 15 habits.


After all, to be well-liked in your industry or niche is  completely in your control. It's a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ). It is not an innate, fixed set of characteristics. Rather, it's a flexible skill that you can improve with intention and effort.

Emotionally intelligent people engage in similar behaviors that make them likable and successful leaders in their industry/niche. Here's a list of these behaviors and some thoughts on how you can begin practicing them, too. 

1. They are open and friendly

If you feel uncomfortable in social settings or are naturally reserved, you may come across as fake, aloof, or indifferent. Be aware of how you present to others. Practice opening up in verbal and nonverbal ways: smile and make eye contact; nod to show you're listening; lean in when someone speaks to you.

Unspoken communication can be even more important than what is said. So, note facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. This enables you to get what's going on regardless of what is actually said. 

2. They have empathy

If you're empathetic, then you have the ability to genuinely feel what others are feeling, good or bad. That means you get excited about others' good news. You don't get jealous. It also means you comfort others when bad things happen, or just when they're down. You constantly place yourself in other's situations. This makes it easier to understand why they're doing what they're doing and enables you to respond appropriately. 

3. They know when to pause

Well-liked and respected people have mastered the art of pausing. After all, another component of EQ is not reacting without first taking stock of the situation. That way, you get a chance to objectively review what's going on and stop yourself from saying or doing anything impulsive. So, when things gets tense or the energy level is too high, learn to pause.

Several things you might consider during that pause:

  • Is the other person anxious, angry, annoyed, disappointed, or stressed?
  • What is their mood?
  • What is my mood?
  • Is there something I could do to help make both of us feel better?
  • If I don't know what to do, is there anything I might say to help out the other person?
  • Assess whether you should simply remain silent and calm and take cues from the person you're interacting with as to the best next step.

4. They are humble

You want to be confident and have solid self-esteem, but you don't want to cross the line to arrogance.  Your leadership position gives you additional accountability to those around you.

5. They have substance

Understand that your knowledge and expertise are critical to the success of everybody who follows you. If you regularly connect with people so as to share your substance with them, you can improve your status throughout your sector at the same time by sharing valuable insights and information.

6. They have a sense of humor

People who are well-liked and enjoyable to be around have a genuinely great sense of humor.

7. They actively listen

To become a good listener, you have to really concentrate on what others are saying. Don't jump in to try to solve a problem or offer advice. Ask follow-up questions, and make others feel heard by letting them know that you understood what they said. You can use open-ended questions to propel the conversation forward by inviting the other person to offer their opinion or give their thoughts. 

8. They are genuinely interested in every person

There should be no difference in how you treat someone, regardless of their position in the hierarchy, and/or regardless of their job or personal situation. You should want to hear everyone's story while remaining open-minded and willing to talk and listen.

Those magnets and well-liked individuals believe that everyone, regardless of status or skills, is worth their time and attention. They make everyone feel valuable because they believe that everyone is valuable.

Likable people are seen as personable and approachable because they allow others to offer thoughts and ideas. They respond by sharing their own feelings and beliefs in a considerate and respectful way.

Regardless of any commonalities you may or may not have with an individual, try to see every new person as an opportunity to learn something new.

9. They do not need to be the center of attention

Likable people want to share the stage and seek to shift focus to those around them.

It doesn't matter if the group is casual, professional, a meeting, or a lunch, you should develop the habit of asking people questions. Doing so allows you to uncover their emotions and motivations and show your genuine interest in them.

10. They are altruistic and generous

Well-liked people are rarely selfish. They don't look for what a situation offers them, or what their actions will provide for them in return. But it's understood that by giving you increase the chance of receiving value as a result.

11. They give credit and accept blame

If well-liked people are recognized for a success, they typically shift and share the praise with others. It's one of the things that makes them well liked. Conversely, if things go poorly on their watch, they don't hesitate to take responsibility. These are good lessons to integrate.

12. They focus on who's in front of them

They know that matching their voice and tone to the other person is a powerful way to build a feeling of affinity and connection. Practice fully committing to the person in front of you, and make sure no device will interrupt your conversation. 

13. They are balanced and reliable

Well-liked people are honest if they are feeling frazzled or stressed, and can ask for a little extra space and patience. You want to be approachable, so you need to be seen as even-tempered. 

14. They show nonverbal respect, as well

What are some facets of nonverbal respect? Facing the person you're talking to directly and looking them in the eye. Avoiding negative posture of slumping or crossing arms.

One of the most significant elements in likability is making sure the nonverbal messages you send others match the words that you're speaking.

15. They're positive and steady, even in a storm

Sure-fire ways to become well liked? When you find yourself in a negative situation, emanate a genuine hope for the future. Have confidence that you can help make tomorrow better than today. Take things in stride. Don't toot your own horn, and don't get rattled if you blow it. Savor success and readily acknowledge failure without getting mired in either. Learn from both and move on.

Wrapping it up

Likability isn't a birthright; it comes from acquiring skills that are important to your professional success. Like other professional skills, you can study people who already have the skills mastered and practice what works and adapt all of it to your own style.

I want to learn more!

Shelley's been in Seattle practically since the dawn of time. She enjoys having fun (seriously) with research and writing. In her off hours she reads and walks, although not at the same time -- because tripping over sidewalks is embarrassing.


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