I’d like to suggest that just about all of us want to be liked and respected as professionals. There’s nothing wrong with this; in fact it can be a good thing if it promotes ethical, values-based decisions and behaviours, particularly amongst leaders and decision makers. But there is a fine line, and recently we have witnessed an increasing desire amongst leaders and decision makers to be loved.
What does this look like in the context of engagement?
A leader who loves to be loved…
- 1. Is highly influenced by the last person they connected with;
- 2. Wants people to be happy, even if that means not making a difficult decision; and
- 3. Is willing to undo good work or process for the vocal minority.
Leadership isn’t easy. It can feel isolating and lonely. It can mean being the face of difficult decisions and, ultimately, it can mean having staff, stakeholders, shareholders or others really disagree with you – heck, they might not like you.
The strength, however, of a leader is not in their desire to be loved, but in their desire to achieve the vision and mission of their organization and to lead with clarity and purpose. It’s a big ask, but the alternative is that leaders will be highly influenced by those who make them feel loved, or good, and more willing to ignore those who challenge, question or push for difficult decision making.
What is a leader to do?
To keep in check one’s desire to be loved, or even to question whether one is being influenced by a minority, ask yourself:
- 1. Does the course correction or course of action I’m going to take align with my personal or organizational values?
- 2. Is there new information, beyond emotion, which we had not considered?
- 3. Am I making a decision so that I or my boss will look good (or is this the right thing to do)?
Keeping oneself in check is critical for both good process and good decision making.