Love is in the air this week as Valentines Day approaches. Which reminds me of how often love clouds our judgement. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to want to be loved. But what happens when your desire to be loved interferes with your ability to lead?
People who gravitate toward leadership roles tend to be charismatic. They work hard at keeping their audiences captivated and enjoy the adoration they receive from their followers. This is all fine and good, until their desire to be liked, or even loved, begins to cloud their judgment. I once worked with a CEO who did his best to avoid conducting performance reviews because he feared people would no longer like him. I explained to him that his people actually wanted to know how they were doing. Not telling them the truth was actually doing him more harm than good, for all parties involved.
Here are some examples of how this can play out:
Colleagues rather than subordinates
In their quest to be liked, leaders drop their guards and become more informal with their employees than they should be. An example of this is when a leader joins his staff at Happy Hour. There is nothing wrong with sharing a beer with the team. However, things can quickly get out of hand when one beer leads to a six-pack. Before you know it, managers are sharing drinking stories from their college days. Throw in a few shots of tequila, and all bets are off.
To effectively lead, your followers must have a high regard for you. Sure, they may look up to you all evening, but will they still respect you in the morning?
Communicating versus commiserating
It’s lonely at the top. There are few people who you can confide in regarding your hopes and fears. It can happen to the best of leaders – eventually they stop communicating and start commiserating with their executive team and sometimes with staff.
In these trying times, your team is looking for a leader. Someone who they are confident will be able to steer their ship through these choppy waters. The last thing they need to hear is a leader expressing doubt. If you find that you need a sounding board, consider hiring an executive coach or joining an association. Then be sure you return to the business of communicating the information employees need to hear, so when you turn around, you actually have people following you.
Are you doing too much for your employees?
Are you constantly picking up the slack for members of your team who are not cutting it? When doing so, do you take the time to explain how they can improve their performance? Or do you simply decide it is easier to do things yourself to avoid more conflict?
Conflict fuels improved performance and innovation. It can also strengthen relationships when both parties have an opportunity to have their say. Think about your own personal relationships – do you have more respect and adoration for those who are willing to call you on your actions, or for those that avoid conflict?
It is nice to be loved, but as a leader, it is more important to be respected. Do you agree?
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