“Everyone likes him. He must be a good leader.”
I heard a colleague say that once in the workplace.
And when I heard it, I objected.
I didn’t object because the guy in question was a bad leader. I objected because the statement isn’t true.
Just because everyone likes you doesn’t mean you’re a good leader.
In fact, if everyone likes you, it might suggest you’re more of a pleaser than a leader.
Which – if people are counting on you to lead – could be problematic.
I’ve seen this phenomenon plenty of times in the workplace. I bet you have too: The person who confuses leading with pleasing.
The pleaser tries to make everyone happy, avoids necessary conflict, can’t give critical feedback, never makes enemies and doesn’t cultivate dissent.*
In acting that way, the pleaser ain’t leading. The pleaser is merely . . . well . . . pleasing.
Unlike a pleaser, a leader doesn’t forego the chance of higher team performance in favor of good team feelings.
In my experience, some people are constituted as pleasers. By nature or nurture – that’s beside the point here. Pleasers are great to have around. As family, friends and colleagues. Indeed, pleasers can thrive in the workplace – particularly in direct customer service.
But in leadership?
Gotta’ be careful with that one.
Sometimes pleasing can become an excuse for poor leading – or worse, pleasing can be antithetical to leading.
Sorry folks, remember the saying: “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader. Sell ice cream.”**
Good servant-leaders know this.
Sure, servant-leaders want to please their followers and those they serve. No doubt about that!
But . . .
A good servant-leader never lets pleasing get in the way of leading.
What do you think? Have you seen pleasing get in the way of leading?
As always, we appreciate your views.
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** I just love that saying: “If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader. Sell Ice Cream”