Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Competent vs Likable

Penelope Trunk say in her interview:

"Question: Is it more important to be competent or likable?

Answer: People would actually rather work with someone who is incompetent and likeable than competent and unlikable. Most people nod in agreement when they read this. It’s the unlikable people who form arguments in their head.

But there’s more. At work, if you are unlikable, people start thinking you are less competent. So stop thinking you can skate by on your genius IQ because you can’t."

Is this the end of the world as we know it? Or not? Can you guess what I've been reading lately? (Answer: Ayn Rand)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Likable is definitely the more important of those two, but respectability is the MOST important. I've been in hospitality for 17 years, the last 7 of those in IT management. In my industry in particular, your level of competence is irrelevant if you are a jerk. Especially if you have to tell the customer, internal or external, something they won't like, e.g., "you lost all of your email", they'll never believe you if they don't respect you, regardless of how competent you are. Even if you're "likable", they will still question your skills if they have no respect for you. However, you could be the world's biggest jerk and, if they respect you, they'll believe you and have faith in your skills. Bootcamp in the military is a perfect example. Any veteran will tell you that within moments of meeting your drill instructor, company commander, or whatever NCO is in charge of you, you hate them. You probably have a healthy amount of respect for them, though, so you do what they say and believe what they tell you. However, if your DI loses your respect somehow, you might as well kiss your fledgling military career goodbye, because you won't do what they tell you or believe what they say. Or, if you do follow orders, it will only be because you have no other choice and your training will be greatly diminished.
But what if you're a jerk? How do you earn that respect? That's a whole other ball of wax! If you're "lucky", some mission-critical app or server will blow up and you'll save the day. Likable or not, if you resurrect that career making-or-breaking email, spreadsheet, or database for someone, they'll know they can count on you.
So, even if the thought of calling you makes their skin crawl, if you have their respect they'll call you when they need you and they'll have faith in your skills.

Dr Anton Chuvakin