I’m a task master, not a wimpy manager. The last thing I want is for my employees to think I’m their friend. I’m not their friend and I don’t want to be their friend. I was hired to get the job done, and it’s not going to get done if everyone wants to sit around and talk about their problems. The Likeable Leader? What a joke.
Are you kidding me?
I’m a father, not a playmate. The last thing I want is for my children to think I’m their friend. I’m not their friend and I don’t want to be their friend. I want them to respect me and grow up to be responsible adults, and that’s not going to happen if I relinquish my job as a father and spend my time trying to be their friend. The Likeable Father? What a joke.
Are you kidding me?
I’m trying to teach these kids how to grow up to be responsible adults. The last thing I want is for my students to think I’ll drop everything to talk to them about a problem that has nothing to do with class. I’m trying to mold the minds of 30 different children and I can’t do that if I’m spending my time trying to get them to like me. That’s not the way I work. The Likeable Teacher? What a joke.
You can rewrite this ditty for a million different circumstances where people find themselves in a leadership position. It doesn’t much matter if the leader is a manager, the owner of a company, a parent, a teacher, a preacher or even the author of this article. There’s a huge misconception that being liked by the people you lead is a weakness, when nothing … I mean nothing could be further from the truth.
From 5 Years Old to 95 Years Old
There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of leaders from the age of 5 to 95 years old who believe that being liked is a weakness, something to be avoided at all cost. They firmly hold this belief because they feel that if their employees or children or students or followers think they like them, they will try to take advantage of them. And the true is, employees and children and students and followers do try to take advantage of their leaders, but it has nothing to do with being liked.
Do you really believe that liking and being liked by the people you work with is a sign of weakness when you know for a fact that you would much rather work for a manager who you like and respect and who likes and respects you, than for a manager you respect but don’t like. What’s up with the double standard?
Too Much Evidence To Prove Otherwise
Study after study shows that people will work harder for the leader they like than for the leader they don’t like. The problem is this, many leaders believe that if they like and are liked by their employees they will be seen by their employees and their supervisor as weak. They believe that showing the slightest degree of sympathy or compassion or even sharing a laugh with an employee is a sign of being soft. News Alert! It’s not.
If anything, likability and respect go hand in hand. Let me give you a quick example.
Do you like President Obama? Do you respect him? Do you like President Bush? do you respect him? Certainly there are exceptions to what I’m about to tell you, but generally people who like president Obama respect him and the people who like president Bush respect him. There’s a strong link between likeability and respect.
There Are Exceptions
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, as there are exceptions to every rule. It’s true that some of the most charismatic, likeable people in the world turned out to be serial killers and mass murderers. It’s also true that some of the most unlikeable people throughout history commanded the respect of their followers through fear and intimidation. As I said, there are exceptions.
Knowing how to like your employees is the greatest management skill you can posses. Because being liked by the people you lead is one of the most persuasive and powerful skills you can possess if you’re responsible for getting things done.
You Go First
More importantly, you can … and should strive to be … liked AND respected by the people you lead. The way to do that is to like and respect others first.
If you let others take advantage of you, it’s not because they think you like them, it’s because you’re letting them take advantage of you. If you’re not liking others because you’re afraid they will take advantage of you, you’re a very, very weak leader … and I don’t think that’s how you want to be seen.
Step up to the plate and become The Likeable Leader that you’re capable of becoming. It’s easier than you think.