This is an important question, and one that trips up relatively inexperience leaders, or those that may not be able to become effective leaders. We all want to be liked, and the desire to be liked can cause inexperienced leaders to make popular decisions rather than the right decisions.
First, the straight answer. Leaders do not need to be liked. Leadership isn't and can't be a popularity contest, although being liked is helpful. The problem occurs when leaders value being liked to such an extent that they make poor decisions.
However, leaders, to be effective, need to be respected, need to be seen as credible, and need to be seen as good role models, demonstrating honesty, personal commitment and other positive traits. But, because of the leader's role in making decisions -- sometimes hard decisions, being liked shouldn't be seen as a higher priority.
History is replete with leaders who have not been personable or even well liked, yet are seen as effective, and even great leaders. The flip side is that the landscape of history is also littered with the figurative corposes of leaders who were liked personally, but ended up as ineffective leaders.Do leaders need to be liked in order to be successful?