The Trap of Likability

braveheartThere are a number of traps that immature leaders fall into. Few are as prevalent and detrimental as the leader who wants to be liked. They think that being a leader is like being class president – being charismatic and likable.  They envision throngs of followers being so beholden to their leader that they will follow him into any situation.  (Braveheart, anyone?)

This warped view of leadership results in leaders trying to make every single person happy.  Trying to be all things to all people.  Taking personal responsibility for every complaint.  Every perceived wrong the organization has ever leveled against the individual.

What results is an overworked, overwrought leader who may be liked by some, but respected by very few.

Think again about the role of a leader – aligning teams to a shared purpose, putting energy into that mission, and eliminating roadblocks that threaten.  LIKABILITY isn’t the key, RESPECT is.  Between a likable leader and a respected leader, the respected leader will win far more often.  The individuals may not agree with every decision, but with respect they will have faith that the mission is a good one and is achievable.

Being a leader doesn’t mean trying to make everyone around you your friend, buddy, and chap.  This isn’t a popularity contest.  This is about leading a team to win.

Being liked isn’t a winning formula and pursuing it will only result in lost respect and ineffectual leadership.  Make sound decisions.  Explain the logic behind those decisions.  Show common purpose.  Be diligent.  Be consistent.  Earn the respect you need.

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