But I Just Want to be Liked
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

I am a person who wants to be liked by other people. Probably a more accurate statement would be I feel as though I need people to like me. It truly matters to me what people think of me. As I was reflecting on this, I came to the realization that this is crippling my leadership. I can’t be the leader I need to be if I am so focused on having people like me. When we focus on being liked, we avoid tough conversations. We wait to say something until it’s too late, and the relationship may be broken beyond repair. We tolerate poor performance and give others the idea that mediocrity is okay.

I believe the root of my issue is that I want to feel good. When people like me, I feel good. Contrast that against what I always say and write, leadership is never about you; it’s always about the other person. That makes me a hypocrite. I am saying one thing but feeling and sometimes living something else. So, what can I do about this?

It’s time to get to work changing my thought life by focusing on the truth that great leadership is always about others. That’s right, changing my thought life and embracing a new way of thinking will be critical to making the change I desire. To be completely honest, I knew this would be coming at some point.

Gone are the days of asking if everyone is happy. The best leaders move from pleasing people to challenging people. I found these three questions that can help a leader make the shift from pleasing to leading:

  1. What is best for the organization?
  2. What is best for the other people in the organization?
  3. What is best for me?

You see, I do have a place in the questions; it just moved to last instead of first. By focusing on the right questions, we move away from self-serving motives to what is best for others. The key is to make sure you value others in each situation.

Often, a need-to-be-liked mentality is fueled by a lack of confidence or self-esteem. If you have an exaggerated need to be like, spend time investing in yourself. This will allow you to grow healthy self-esteem. It will give you more confidence in your decisions which will then allow you to engage in healthy dialog.

If you would like to hear more about making the shift from pleasing people to challenging them, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 203 of The Next Page podcast. We will look into seven steps that will help you make this shift.

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