Let’s face it: As a leader, you want to be liked, but you also want to be respected. And it really is important to have both if you’re going to be effective on the job. But accomplishing both can be difficult, and maintaining a balance between the two can be even more challenging.
If you spend too much time trying to be liked, chances are you aren’t leading effectively – you’re not making the truly tough decisions (that may not always be popular) and assuring that everyone is doing their job well. Maybe you avoid confrontation and cower at the thought of having to deal directly with workplace issues and problem team members. Or, perhaps in your efforts to be liked, you stick with the status quo, not wanting to “rock the boat.” Outcome? Your team members don’t grow, and you end up with mediocre business results.
On the other hand, if you spend too much time trying to be respected without caring enough about being liked, you may struggle to get your team to support you. Leaders who don’t care at all about being liked may cause their employees to feel like victims. Issues aren’t raised up to you until they have turned into crises because people are afraid of your reaction. Or maybe team members don’t come to you with any new ideas, anticipating that you’ll just put them down anyway. Outcome: Horrible morale and escalating employee turnover.
As tough as it may be, leaders with great Leadership Personal Brands work hard at maintaining a balance between the two poles. It requires weighing every situation carefully and thinking about how your actions and reactions will likely be perceived.
So, what to do? Here’s an exercise:
1. On a piece of paper, draw a horizontal line with a “1” at the left end and a “10” at the right end. Now, think about how you operate as a leader. If “1” represents a 100% focus on being respected, and “10” represents 100% focus on being liked, where would you fall in that continuum? Do you worry too much about how much YOU™ are liked? Or do you try to earn respect without worrying at all if your team likes you? Be honest with yourself: How balanced is your leadership style between these two poles?
2. Based on your schedule for the upcoming week, write down a plan that concentrates on creating a balance between being liked and respected. What actions can you take that will promote this balance? What opportunities might arise that will help you maintain the kind of like-vs-respected balance you want? Think about your options, and weigh the consequences of each. Consider which choices will be most likely to bring you this important balance, strengthening your Leadership Personal Brand in the process.