Several years ago, when I was a project director for a global human resource consulting firm, I had a dispute with a colleague. I rarely had disputes with colleagues, certainly not ones that required, as this one did, the intervention of a vice president. My colleague was a sales representative, working in the sales silo of our firm. As a global project director (and prior to that, the Managing Consultant of our Los Angeles office), I worked in the service delivery silo. My colleague was, in my opinion, aggressive and brash. I was, again in my opinion, relatively soft-spoken and adept at building consensus. We were both quite successful in our respective roles. In the heat of our disagreement, my colleague said to our Vice President, "I know our clients love Jo, but so what?" Fortunately, our Vice President agreed with me that my likeability among our clients was a valuable asset, but still I pondered the question, "So what?"
Here's what I concluded and how it impacts my work with my clients: Working with a consultant or coach should make your life easier, not harder! Even when the work itself is hard - maybe especially when the work is hard - clients deserve to work with people they like, understand, and trust completely. One person's "likeability" might not be another's, but if our values are similar, we'll communicate better, understand each other better, appreciate each other more and achieve better results together. That's what you deserve when you choose a consultant or coach. That's why likeability matters.