Leaders, Stop Trying to Be Loved

As a leader, if your goal is to get everybody to like you, you’re probably not going to go very far. That’s not how you grow a great business.

To be a great leader, oftentimes you have to make very unpopular decisions. With a growing team and a growing organization, the odds that every decision you make will receive unanimous support — that everybody’s going to love it and everybody will see the vision for the organization the same way that you do — are like 0%. 

I’ve seen many leaders who try to get their teams to love them by giving them cookies, cupcakes, and donuts — and at first, it seems to work.

Those team members love that leader…until it’s the end of the month and they missed their targets. They’re not successful, and they’re not able to grow financially, go on vacation, or do the thing that they want to do — all because that leader did not set them up for success. They set them up with donuts. 

Quickly that love for that leader turns to animosity.

I had a leader on my team in this situation once.

She came to me for advice, asking, “They loved me yesterday. Why don’t they like me today?” 

I had to tell her, “Because if you want them to really love you, help them be successful. Help them grow, improve, evolve their skills, evolve their capabilities, and become people of value.”

Many leaders hesitate to make a decision they worry their team may not agree with or understand. They worry that decision will give their team a negative view of them.

But that’s a short-term type of reaction. Those team members are often not always aware of everything that’s going on: the second-order and third-order consequences of any decision that you make, how it impacts other people in the organization, how it impacts other teams and departments, etc.

My advice is to stop worrying about being liked or making “popular” decisions.

Instead, help your team members be more resilient, have more grit, be more determined, be more focused, be a greater contributor, and be a greater driver. If you help someone do that, they’re going to love you and they’re going to respect you. 

As Machiavelli teaches, if you can only choose one between love and respect, I’ll take the respect. 

As a leader, make decisions because they are the right move for the greater good of the organization. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does it keep you from running out of money? 
  • Does it help make sure that your organization is always going to be competitive? 
  • Does it create growth opportunities for the majority of your team?

If you can focus on those three things, you will be much more successful than if you worry about whether everyone will like you or not.

Subscribe Now

Four part master series

To receive my latest articles in your inbox weekly

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Category


Subscribe to receive my latest articles in your inbox weekly.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.