As leaders, we want to be liked, but we also want to be respected. Can we be both? Not only do I believe it’s possible, but I’ve personally witnessed many leaders walking a beautifully balanced line between the two.
Accomplishing both isn’t always easy, though. What happens when the balance tips too far in one direction or the other?
• If you spend too much time trying to be liked, you probably aren’t leading effectively. You may avoid making the kinds of unpopular decisions that leaders are occasionally required to make. You might put off having the types of challenging, performance-related discussions that you sometimes need to have with team members. In fact, you may not even be aware of whether all members of your team are doing their job well enough or how their performance is seen by others.
• 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 members’ support. Not caring enough about being liked can cause your employees to feel like victims. As a result, employee retention drops, and you may find yourself continually back at the drawing board trying to fill open positions. This is counterproductive and expensive.
Executives with the best Leadership Brands know how to straddle the “liked” and “respected” poles and remain balanced. It takes finesse to figure out what is needed in each situation, and as a leader, you may not get it right every time. But if you want to grow, work on increasing your ability to assess every situation and figure out the best course of action. Before making a decision, ask yourself, “Am I worrying too much about being liked?” and “Am I worrying too much about being respected?”