Who cares if your employees will still love you tomorrow? The real question is, will they still respect you tomorrow? One of the biggest mistakes business owners and managers make is being more concerned about being loved, than respected. So much so, that I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to this topic in my new book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey).
People who gravitate toward entrepreneurship and 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. Here is some of the many ways this play out in business.
College Buddies 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 her staff at Happy Hour. There is nothing wrong with sharing a glass of wine with the team. However, things can quickly get out of hand when one glass leads to a bottle. 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?
TMI (Too Much Information)-It’s great to show an interest in your people, but sometimes that interest can cross the line and place you in some dangerous territory. Here is what I mean by this. Suppose you know more about a particular employee than is really necessary to be an effective leader. For example, maybe they’ve told you they will soon be a single parent. The same day you receive this news, you are informed that you must cut staff. You know this person should be the one you release, yet you decide to keep her, even though it’s not in the best interest of the team nor the best interest of the company. This employee now adores you. However, the rest of the management team (and perhaps your own people) are questioning your judgement.
Leadership isn’t about being loved. It’s about being respected. If you want unconditional love, get a pet.