In case you have not heard of the Brazen Careerist aka Penelope Trunk, hold onto your hat! She was interviewed recently by Guy Kawasaki in his blog posting Ten Questions with Penelope Trunk: Career Guidance for This Century and, as usual, her answers are thought provoking and perhaps even controversial.
My absolute favorite answer (#2) has to do with the importance of competency versus likeability. Her answer reminded me of an article on likeability and competence in the Harvard Business Review comparing the merits of incompetent, likeable worker versus a competent, unlikeable worker. It seems employers say that competence is more desirable than likeability in employees - if it comes down to a choice. But in actual practice, the reverse was found to be true in the organizations studied by two professors (one at Harvard Business School and the other at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business). Likeability trumps competence every time!
The criteria of competence and likeability form a matrix, yielding four possibilities: the competent and likeable star, the competent but unlikeable jerk, the likeable but incompetent fool, and the incompetent total jerk. It would seem all organizations are clamoring for the first type of employee, but what if you do not fall into that category? Would coaching to improve your likeability improve your odds for career success? I'd love to hear your take on it. By the way, Guy's 10 questions turned into 12; as usual, he over-delivers!