Leadership is a constant balancing act. You need to make tough decisions while getting the buy-in of your people. Steer your team in the right direction while making sure their individual developments are not overlooked. You try to correct wrong behavior but should be careful not to bruise the person’s confidence and compromise their trust in you.
There are two kinds of leaders in every organization: the popular one and the tough but respected one. Which one do you want to be?
Being Liked is Good, But…
Likeability is a good quality to have, but it can only get you so far. If you’re always aiming to please everyone and be the ‘nice guy’, it could result in complacency and lack of urgency among your staff. It could end in resentment when the time comes that you need to push for results.
It’s not to say that you should induce fear to get the job done. You just need to know when it is the right time to be nice and when you need to be the boss. Acknowledge every good work effort, give your staff small gifts on special occasions, or treat your team to dinner after completing a big project.
Be kind, but when it comes to work, set reasonable expectations and monitor results.
Becoming the Leader they Aspire to Be
On the other end of the spectrum is a leader who may not be popular but is an example that everyone looks up to and respects.
Keeping everyone on their toes, making unpopular decisions, and caring about results is your job, and it follows that you expect the same dedication from your people. At the same time, you shouldn’t forget that your employees are individuals with different needs and capabilities.
A great leader sets a clear goal so each member of the team knows their role and responsibilities. You’re not afraid to demonstrate ‘tough love’ when someone is veering away from the agreed plan or is not performing as expected. If you handle it right, your employees will thank you for looking after them and setting them straight.
You also need to establish a performance evaluation process not just for your staff, but for yourself as well. Just as you evaluate your people, they should also be able to receive feedback on your performance.
Create professionally crafted management survey questions as well as assessment forms for all members of your team. This ensures a good flow of communication and feedback that will help improve the way you run things.
Being respected as a leader requires proving your worth to the team, genuinely caring about their wellbeing, and giving them honest and constructive feedback. They also need to feel that their success is the company’s success. However, you should also remember that letting go of people who are insubordinate and unfit for office culture will be better for your organization.
Aiming to be both liked and respected will be difficult to balance, but it is possible. If you have to choose between the two, the latter option will take you far and will be more rewarding in the end.