How important is it to be liked as a leader?
Some of us have tossed and turned at night about whether we are liked by our colleagues and teams, and wonder if our likability affects our results. Is this something that we should be going to work on more than other aspects of our role?
The truth is, we all know of transformational leaders that have not been well liked.
Everyone can immediately think of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Winston Churchill, and others who were known to pick favorites, alienate others, have yelling matches, and create groups of enemies plotting against them. Yet, there is no denying the incredible results they generated. Many assert that it was their monstrous behaviors that caused their success, while others argue that if they had been more universally likable, their results would have been far more extraordinary.
What if we give up being liked?
Being liked is not the job, and it’s not required for transformational leadership. To create extraordinary results, we need to focus on the mission and vision, plan the course, empower those around us, and adjust as needed. That is it. However, coldly casting off our automatic human tendencies to be respected and loved is inauthentic. Just giving it up doesn’t always give us the peace needed to stay on our game.
Being responsible for our likability
I’ve witnessed leaders say things such as, “I can be a monster at times and I’m not afraid to own this when it happens. Please feel free to call me out with respect and intention when I’m in a calmer state.”
As well as, “I’ve been known at times to get caught up in being liked over getting the results we’re after, and I’m asking you to respectfully call me out on if you see this.”
This not only allows you freedom from being liked or not, it has your team see that you know yourself and are willing to be responsible for your behavior. Transformational Leaders know that anything we choose to be responsible for, we have influence over and much more becomes possible.