Baloney. Tell me about a political system or nation state where the people are flourishing as a result of being under a leader that they fear. People who are afraid of their leaders don't produce at their best; and while short-term gains can sometimes be made under these circumstances, the long-term consequences are not "continuous improvement."
My colleague Jim Kouzes and I wrote in A Leader's Legacy that "leaders should want to be like." Indeed, we don't need to read mountains of studies on emotional intelligence to understand this truth: We will work harder and more effectively for people we like. And we will like them in direct proportion to how they make us feel.
Still, not a week goes by that we don't hear someone in an executive role say something to this effect: "I don't care if people like me. I just want them to respect me." Get real!
That statement is utter nonsense, and contrary to everything we know about effective leadership. Think about it for a moment. Is this a binary choice? Are we restricted to either liking or respecting someone? Can't we have both? Can't we both like and respect a person?
When we talk to people about the leaders they admire -- the ones they'd stay up late for, the ones they'd bust their butts for, the ones they'd die for -- we never, ever hear anyone tell us, "Well I hated that guy, but I'd follow him to the ends of the earth!" Or, "She was a real jerk, but I sure was inspired to do my best for her." The leaders people want to follow are the ones for whom they have genuine affection. Love is definitely not too strong a word to use for how the best leaders feel about their constituents and how their constituents feel about these leaders.
Being liked also makes your job as a leader a whole lot easier. You'll have an easier time getting people to trust you. You'll have an easier time getting people to listen to you. You'll have an easier time getting people to put in extra effort. You'll have an easier time getting people to accept the bad news. You'll have an easier time getting people to work together. You'll have an easier time making money. And, you'll also be a much healthier person.
So, when someone says "I don't care if people don't like me," or "I want people to fear me," can they really be serious? We don't think so. How can they mean it when the evidence is so clear and compelling that being liked produces better results?
And, who are the "people" they are talking about, anyway? Can they really mean that they don't care if their spouses don't like them, or their kids fear them, or their business partners fear them, or their employees don't like them, or their friends (would they have any?) don't like them?
If you have someone in a leadership role working for you who truly doesn't care if other people don't like him or her, then fire that person. That individual may not like you, but everyone else will.
Posted by: dottydo | August 18, 2009 6:47 PM
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Posted by: aeschonfeld | August 18, 2009 1:09 PM
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