Every new leader wants to be liked by their team.
New leaders experience a myriad of emotions until they feel comfortable in their new position. It takes time for this to happen and it can be comfortable at times. Getting along with your team makes the multitude of hours go faster. People smile and joke more readily. Life is more enjoyable when you aren’t in the middle of a conflict.
What is the REAL cost being “liked”?
A person’s desire to be liked can jeopardize their leadership career by creating a culture where the select people’s actions are ignored. People like it when they get a break they do not deserve or did not earn. Others like it when they don’t have to make something right or admit when they are wrong. They tend to be VERY vocal about their opinions about EVERYTHING. They may attempt to manipulate the new leader to bending the rules just for them. This example is an extreme or is it?
I inherited a team of three warring factions.
My predecessor had been “well liked”. He had accepted their behavior and created a very toxic culture for anyone trying to do the right thing for the customer. This toxic culture had inspired more than one very talented person to leave the company. I would rewarded for his popularity with months of struggle to forge them into a performing team. He had done them a huge disservice allowing them to behave unprofessionally.
This team’s performance problems were incredible.
There were no goals, no accountability or discipline. Anything went. Quality assurance inspectors were bullied to accept a part that obviously did not meet specifications. Any discussion of a quality or workmanship problem was won by the one who could yell the loudest and create the greatest insult. The factions were led by individuals well-schooled in bullying – they defended their crew and never admitted a mistake.
Not long after I started, a set of parts worth $10,000 went “missing”.
Both area supervisors looked high and low for them but ultimately, I had to call the customer to let them their delivery would be delayed. Shortly after getting my butt chewed by the customer (who was 100% correct in being upset with me and my team), I took my area supervisors out to lunch. While they were trying to smooth things over about the parts, I stopped them in mid-sentence. Their behavior may have been acceptable under the old boss but under my leadership, it would not be.
I expected them to be able to transfer parts without them getting lost. I expected them to cooperate and not trade insults in front of the team. If they could not live up to my expectations, they would be out of a job. No more parts went missing and the insults between these two leaders ended that day.
People respect leaders who use their authority wisely.
They respect people who aren’t afraid to put their foot down and discipline an unruly mod or mobster. They respect a leader who can hold their tongue and rise above the mayhem to establish a culture where individual achievement is appreciated and teamwork matters. Being liked puts a leader under the influence of a mob. There will be great days and difficult days as a leader. Do yourself a favor. Have a goal of being respected, consistent and a great communicator. The other pieces will have into place.