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Many of us have a desire, or a deep-seeded need to be liked. Individuals will often go out of their way to do things to ensure that others will like them or more specifically to ensure others have no reason to dislike them. However, when it comes to holding a position of leadership this behaviour could well undermine your ability to be an effective leader. Why? That’s what we’re about to explore.

Those in leadership roles have a broad breadth of responsibilities. They need to be proficient in the utilisation of all business resources including maximising the capability of their people.  This needs to be done within the context of the business’s strategic objectives. Suffice to say this is a complex role and often requires robust discussions with staff and stakeholders, the delivery of feedback both positive and constructive and the communication of strategic objectives in a way their team can understand and align to.

In all of this individuals within the team may associate the delivery of ‘bad news’ or constructive feedback as a reflection of the leader’s likability. That is, they hear things they do not like and decide they don’t like the bearer of that communication. 

So if you’re a leader who wants to be liked how do you think that will impact on your ability to be effective? 

From experience, we know that leaders who have a need to be liked will often do things that undermine their effectiveness in their role, for example, holding back on constructive feedback, continuing to behave like ‘one of the gang’, or undermining the organisation’s strategy. These leaders become organisationally ineffective, leading their team in a way that is not proficient, profitable nor good for their people’s future career.

Let’s be clear we’re not saying that leaders should be disliked, that’s certainly not an effective leadership strategy either, however being respected as a leader by your people improves your ability to harness their capability and loyalty. We’ve all had managers who we’ve respected and potentially quite liked and admired as a boss even if we didn’t always like the decision they made or their feedback on our performance.

So what are some of the traits of a respected leader?

A leader who commands the respect of their team will:

●      Communicate in respectful, clear way. They do not yell or use destructive language when communicating with their team as a group or individually.

●      Provide feedback even when it’s constructive. This feedback should be delivered clearly without negative emotion to encouraging and supports of the behaviour change required.

●      Make the tough decisions for the benefit of the organisation and the team, even if the decision may be unpopular within your team.

●      Be consistent in their behaviour and decision making. The team can rely on them and even develop the ability to predict their likely decision in a given set of circumstances.

●      Show respect for the organisation, their team and individual team members. They are known to speak of their team with regard outside of the team itself.

Shifting your behaviour from a “likability” focus to a focus that will garner the respect of your team. This will put you in a better position to provide your team with the opportunity to develop individually meeting both their personal career goals and organisational outcomes.

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