Skip to main content

The Problem With Being Liked.

By December 2, 2014February 14th, 2019Articles, Business Coach, Leadership

Liked“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and you would achieve nothing.”Margaret Thatcher

Being liked is a natural human need. We are social creatures and prefer company than living a life of solitude (some days this can be debatable!). Most people like to feel accepted, they like to think they fit in and belong to a tribe. So it can be very confronting when these people find themselves in a situation where they are not liked. They not only find it confronting but terribly upsetting.

A friend of mine was promoted to senior leadership is a large organization. He was very excited about the opportunity in front of him and was keen to make a difference and achieve positive outcomes. As a peer, everyone liked him. He was funny, talented and very knowledgeable. He liked that he was liked. It made him feel good.

When he started his leadership role, this was a priority for him. He wanted his team to like him. He believed they would ‘get on board’ and work for him if they did. Sadly he was wrong!

People are very smart! They will suss you out and smell a weakness a mile away. His team did just that and had him worked out in a jiffy! They got the sense this guy wanted them to like them and used it to their advantage! They had him wrapped around their fingers. Good for them! Problem was the business was crumbling.

So what did he do?

Retreated! He went into hiding, put his head in the sand and couldn’t understand why this was happening. Heavy hearted he chatted to me about what was happening at work (the now playground) and most importantly what wasn’t happening. It was crisis point and he had no idea what to do.

In leadership, there is a huge problem with being liked as you can see from my friend’s story. As a leader you need to make decisions and take actions that may upset people. Not everyone will applaud you. You need to drive the business to success and some people may not be on the bus with you. You will need to say no. You will need to have confronting conversations with people. You need to be the leader.

The key distinction in mindset for a leader is you should be aiming to be respected. It’s very different to being liked. And you are not there to make friends. You are there to empower, influence, disrupt people thinking, encourage collaboration and achieve results. That is your role put quite simply. And no one is going to respect you if they can manipulate you and/or see others doing it.

So my friend decided he would turn things around and had to make some huge mindset and behavioural changes. This didn’t feel good to him – at all. He was uncomfortable but was clear on what had to happen. He is in the process of turning things around. He’s facing challenge but he’s also gaining the respect from his team, which will continue. He’s on the right track to being respected. He’s now being a true leader.