Because I was young and naive when I took a leadership position during my first career in Minor League Baseball management, my focus as a leader was to keep everybody happy so they would “like me.”
This leadership strategy backfired and had the reverse affect. However, it took a long time, like 10 years, before I realized I needed to improve my leadership skills.
Focusing on just “being liked” caused me to be slow in making decisions, to not tell people the complete truth, to promise things I couldn’t deliver and just be wishy-washy in general. These are not the traits of a strong leader and create a low-morale, low trust work environment.
As years went by and I carried that leadership approach into my future roles as general manager and president of other franchises, I continued to struggle with environments that evolved into low morale workplaces. Years later, when the stress of these negative work environments became too great for me to ignore (one situation led directly to the dissolution of my first marriage), I realized that I had to step up and improve my leadership skills and begin to address issues promptly, directly and respectfully.
When I made that shift in my approach, my focus changed. I began to focus on becoming a respected leader first, and a leader that was liked, second.
When you focus on being respected. You can be both respected and liked as a leader. Not everyone will like you, but over time they will respect you. Those that truly do not like or agree with your style will move on to an environment that fits more with their personality. When that happens you will find more people joining your team that are attracted to your style.
How to do this is more art than science and next week I’ll write about how to balance the two most important people management techniques so that you can become a respected and liked leader.
But, first you have to make a decision do you want to…
1) Focus on being “liked” by those you lead and you will be neither liked or respected, or
2) Focus on being “respected” by those you lead and you will be respected and have great chance at being “liked” too.
If you would like to improve the leadership skills of those in your organization it starts with understanding the foundation of influential leadership communication, which I train and coach to leaders at all levels of organizations in a program called “Influencing Options.”