likeability is effected by management in the international workplace. It assumes a phenomenological approach to the notion of likeability, and is based on the idea that likeability in management is fundamental to achieving "connectedness" among employees and to inspiring the drive needed to ensure an organization's success. By conducting a survey of employees and managers from every major business continent of the globe (Asia, Europe, America, the Middle East), it seeks to understand the different ways in which likeability is manifested, discerned, appreciated, and utilized in the cross-cultural international workplace. Its aim is to fill a gap in likeability research regarding the importance of international managerial likeability and hopes to raise awareness about the essentiality of likeability to success. It also aims to identify the phenomenon of likeability as it appears in different cultures. Identifying that phenomenon and coming to terms with it will help business managers to better develop likeability across cultures and ensure success in the international market. It is discovered in this study that among the participants interviewed, the majority stated that likeability is something that depends upon how one "relates" and/or connects to others. Personality, behavior, and even exterior qualities, such as "looks" and the way a manager holds himself can contribute to whether one is likeable across cultures. All participants agreed that likeability is a phenomenon that should receive more study and because of the possible beneficial effect it could have in the international workplace environment.
The accelerating pace and intensity of global competition is compressing the time that managers and leaders have to interact with their reports, peers and own managers. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) reports a third of all frequently traveling management analysts worked more than 40 hours per week. Meanwhile, the demands of a global economy are felt across the board by managers who must deal with international markets, which "have increased the pace of work" (Blair-Loy, Jacobs, 2003, p. 230) in an age devoted to communication capabilities and outsourcing. The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labor Studies showed that globalization has increased "incidence of overtime" in Germany (Burgoon, Raess, 2007, p. 39). And New York Times op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman (2005) captured the essence of the problem when he noted that "French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Good luck." Nothing has changed in the eight years that have passed since then: Friedman (2013) notes that companies are more than ever interested in what an employee can "do" -- and with the Internet making jobs virtually open-access all across the globe, the more one can "do" over an extended period of time, the better.
Not only does globalization put pressure on employees to fill a "long hours" role, it places management in the position of overseeing employees, who, like it or not, are facing stiff competition in the global market workforce (Burgoon, Raess, 2007). Ironically, the "long hours culture" is a built-in concept of modern Weber-based societies that invites new demands and challenges for successful businesses (Rutherford, 2001, p. 259) -- but at a very real expense, one that, if not met, can result in billions of dollars in lost revenue for corporations the world over (Pink, 2011). While the sharp rise in work hours at the turn of the 21st century may be considered as the effect of individual, social, organizational, and economic factors (Feldman, 2002), the point remains that managers are facing a demanding work load in a global marketplace (Bhargava, 2012). This demand comes with its own set of stipulations.
Today's management interaction occurs in cross-cultural environments and often in the virtual mode. The combination of diversity, geographic dispersion and time constraints oblige managers to reduce the amount of human interaction resulting in quick judgment and loss of visibility impact. Where interaction is limited, the opportunity to build trust and to be appreciated (liked) as a person and as a professional, diminishes (Sanders, 2006). Consequently, lack of results is too easily justified by external factors such as cultural differences. Cultural differences exist but in every culture people who are likable are more easily accepted. Making oneself likeable, available, and committed to a team, an individual, a potential client, an actual client, or an organization is one of the core fundamentals of business success (Holmes, 2007).
The likeability factor is key in motivating teams and getting buy-in (Wu, 2012), but in reality managers do not realize the extent of the impact and often complain that "the others" are not motivated or not enough committed (Pink, 2011). In a global market environment, where demands are high and expectations even higher, managers are tasked with balancing time -- a precious commodity in today's workforce (Holmes, 2007) -- and energy. Therefore, it is necessary to be aware that likeability is a very comprehensive and impactful quality to develop and keep for today's leaders (Shirom, 2007) -- especially in this age when the global economy is unstable, exposure to different cultures is high, and talents need to be retained for companies in order to excel (Bhargava, 2012). The prospect of maintaining a successful business invites an investigation into the impact of likeability in the successful workplace. It is an invitation which is not always and in every case accepted.
In 2007 a survey was conducted among 90,000 employees around the world and it was found that that only 20% were trying as hard as they could to perform well, while the others were disengaged (Bhargava, 2012). This problem did not occur because of lazy employees or staff not being interested in their work, but because of a lack of personal interaction with the leadership resulting in conflict amongst co-workers (Bhargava, 2012). The extensive research of best-selling author Daniel Pink (2011) shows that likeability of leaders motivates teams over the long-term by creating a culture that supports strong autonomy, mastery and purpose throughout their teams (Pink, 2011). Research has shown that a highly likeable and effective leader will be able to create an excellent foundation of autonomy for their subordinates by concentrating on trust (Gardner & Stough, 2002). These findings suggest that likeability is a common need in the workplace. Laura (2011) suggests that likeability may indeed be a common need in the workplace worldwide.
While there is a wealth of research that conclusively shows how interrelated transformational leadership and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are -- specifically, with regard to the positive outcomes for teams engaged in complex projects (Cavazotte, Moreno & Hickmann, 2012) -- there is a lack of research on the interrelationship of transformational leadership, EI, and likeability. As transactional leadership styles are highly effective in more routine tasks where immediate rewards or punishments are provided, transformational leadership is more attuned to the needs of more long-term complex projects (Harms & Crede, 2010). Trust, not rewards (either positive or negative), becomes the currency of effective leadership in more complex and especially in virtual team structures. Trust, transparency, authenticity, EI, success and transformational leadership all have one thing in common -- they are likeable traits and/or abilities and/or ideals. How are each of these concepts connected to likeability? How does likeability manifest itself across cultures even as cultures come into closer and closer contact with one another in the international workplace?
In reality the most skilled transformational leaders including the most effective Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have the ability to provide a framework and culture that gives flexibility to each team member while unifying everyone to a common goal (Kennedy, 2008). Virtual teams and the new realities of global competition require transformational leaders to continually improve their EI skills and acumen in leading global teams (Radostina & Joyce, 2009). This is particularly challenging in virtual teams as each team member must sustain their commitment and motivation to completing their own and shared tasks. The most effective transformational leaders have EI skills, which also leads to their likeability (Cronin, 2008). The aspect of likeability then is the result of a leader's continued commitment to excel in a transformational role, supported and fueled by insights from EI-based skills and acumen in managing situations. The extent of likeability of a leader can often be measured in how transformational they are, what level of emotional intelligence (EI) they exhibit, and how authentic and transparent they are in daily tasks (Radostina & Joyce, 2009). The authenticity, transparency and trust of any leader are the primary foundations of what makes them capable of transforming organizations. The intent of this phenomenological study is to evaluate these factors of transformational leadership and EI, looking at how a quotient or index of likeability can be used to predict the effectiveness of managers as they are assigned into cultures dissimilar than their own. Predicated on the belief that likeability is an indicator of advanced leadership expertise, studies showing transformational leaders are more effective in assimilating into and leading diverse multicultural teams is presented.