Let’s face it, we feel good when we are accepted and liked by our superiors and co-workers. It makes the day go by smoother and it is easier to go to work knowing you have a good relationship with your colleagues. There is something to be said about the ease of liking the people you work with. In fact, I’ve often found many employees are loyal to organizations because they like their co-workers and management. Now while those circumstances are admirable, as leaders we shouldn’t become dependent on being liked to effectively perform our job. Balance is important in leadership, especially because it is in our DNA to have the desire to be embraced. Imagine being cuddled and soothed throughout life only to face the harsh reality of the world we live in today. Let’s face it; it’s a jungle out here and survival skills are mandatory to succeed! Being dependent on fitting in with the crowd simply won’t cut it. Leaders have great discernment; as a leader, you have to know when to cut the cord and when to hold a hand.
So how do you become an effective leader AND
have a good relationship with your employees?
Good leaders are cut from a different cloth. Effective leaders are humble beings. They are respectful, courteous and empathetic. They are equipped with the ability to influence and encourage people to perform required tasks to meet or exceed expectations. These qualifications and characteristics are not teachable through a 3 hour certification course. Either you have it, or you don’t. This is why I strongly disagree with the notion that merely having workplace seniority automatically qualifies an employee to assume a leadership position. Experience and book smarts alone are not sufficient enough to qualify someone as a leader. The desire to help others succeed must be greater than the desire to help oneself.
Mean managers are not leaders!
It is important to avoid the misconception that being mean or cold is a requirement if you want to work in a leadership capacity. Some managers believe that imposing intimidation and fear on employees gets better or faster results; when in the long run, it only creates a negative culture within the organization which will soon prove to be detrimental. Having the support of your employees is vital to an organization’s sustainability. This condition is not something that should be taken lightly and employees should not be dismissed or treated as though they are not valuable even if eventually you find they are a mismatch for the organization. Life will teach us that not everyone is meant to lead and that is fine; but there must be a mutually consistent level of respect and professionalism during the journey.
Leaders have to have tough skin!
Born leaders don’t spend time focusing on how many people genuinely like them; instead, they focus on building functional relationships while firmly relaying objectives and expectations. Holding employees accountable for goals not met can be challenging when you have an emotional connection with someone you manage. The line in the sand must be drawn clearly and distinctly and not everyone can manage these boundaries. When your vision becomes clouded by playing favorites, you have no room to make tough decisions and handle conflicts through unbiased eyes. Emotions will take over and the outcomes of those decisions hardly yield impressive results.
The truth is; receiving negative criticism when you are a leader is inevitable. You can’t please everybody and to be frank, not everyone is worth the investment and that’s OK! Wish them well and move-on; but you must, move-on. As leaders, we are not in the people pleasing business; we are in the people building business.
All the best,
Mary V. Davids
Mary V. Davids is the Founder and Managing Member of D&M Consulting Services, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To contact Mary, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @MVDavids.