This edition of Professional Military Education (PME) provides a differing perspective on the definition of likership and aims to change the way we look at it. The article Leadership vs Likership discusses the role of being liked when leading and explores the idea of likership being a key component of leadership.

Take a read through the article and re-form your own opinions of the word ‘likership’ and what you value in a leader. Think about what you have seen work and what you’ve seen fail in leaders. Also critically analyse the assertions contained within the text to determine what you agree and disagree with in the article. Be prepared to debate the pros and cons of being liked as a leader; in particular, the risks involved in ‘chasing likership’.

Finally, decide whether or not you think it’s a good idea to re-define a term such as likership, a word which has typically been given a bad reputation as something to avoid at all costs in positions of leadership.


  1. What is your own definition of likership?
  1. Do you agree or disagree with this new definition on likership and the premise of the article?
  1. What do you think soldiers value most in a leader? What do you value most in a leader?
  1. Do you value leadership styles similar to your own? Or do you admire differing leadership styles that wouldn’t necessarily work for you being true to yourself?
  1. Think about the best and worst leaders you’ve worked for and with. Consider how much you liked/disliked them and discuss how that correlated to how willing you were to follow them.
  1. Does being liked make it easier to lead? What do you think some of the pitfalls are when you focus on being liked? Conversely, if you are hated as a leader do you think this affects how well you can lead?
  1. Do you agree with the premise that if you are unable to be loved as a leader, you should use fear to lead, and do your best to avoid being hated? Do you agree with the idea that someone can be feared but not hated?
  1. What are your thoughts on using fear to generate followership?
  1. Do you think there is risk involved with leading too softly? What impacts may this have? Conversely, what are the impacts of leading too harshly?
  1. Do you agree that likership is a component of leadership?


For a look at likership from a different perspective, and for an understanding of how disliked, toxic leaders can still lead organisations to good results, read Great Results Through Bad Leaders: The Positive Effects of Toxic Leadership. This classic takes you through a case study of a toxic leader who was disliked in their organisation. Due to the ‘galvanising effect’ their leadership created amongst their staff; the team achieved great results. The teamwork created to work around the common enemy allowed the organisation to succeed in spite of the poor leadership displayed by the leader.


Take a look at this features page on The Cove entitled Knowing Yourself and others as a Leader. It contains a large number of resources including articles, lectures, case studies and tools such as personality tests; all designed to help you understand yourself and other leaders around you. This page could be used to conduct a leadership PME day, or just to refer to anything that interests you as a leader.


If you enjoyed this activity, why not try the other PMEs available on The Cove?

Want more material for your junior officers? Find it here. This article collates articles from across The Cove designed for junior officers and Troop/Platoon Commanders.


If you have suggestions for improvements – additional readings or reference material, alternative discussion points, new delivery methods – or just wish to provide feedback, please contact The Cove Team via


Here are the Facilitator's Notes (PDF) for this PME.