Before I get into the meat of what I want to say on this topic, let me give one disclaimer – I believe that the principle of liking is critical to the success of leaders. In other words, people do business with people they like (that’s the principle of liking according to Robert Cialdini). Consider this statement about the Principle of Liking I found at Influence People, “actually, it may surprise you to learn that the key to the liking principle isn’t so much about getting others to like us; it’s really about us coming to like them. Too often people are concerned with doing whatever it takes to get people to like them, failing to realize if they genuinely like the person they’re with, that person will sense it and naturally reciprocate.”
As a leader it is important that you are likeable, but getting them to like you or worrying about whether they like you is a waste of time. If you genuinely care about people, they will know it, even if they don’t like what you are doing or saying in a given moment or within the scope of a project. That being said, “What if they don’t like you?”
If as a leader you are moved or immobilized by what you think people think about you…you are dead in the water before you even get started. If your leadership is contingent upon them, and what you think they are thinking about you, they are leading – not you – and that’s not leadership.
What If…They Don’t Like Me? This question has nothing to do with leadership. It has nothing to do with results and accomplishing the tasks you may be working towards. Whether they like you or not, if you are the leader, you’re responsibility is to lead. You are not leading them to win a popularity contest. You are not leading to win their love and affection. If you are a leader, you will be leading with confidence, vision and purpose. You will inspire others and they will want to follow you. Your leadership should transform people and processes. Leadership is about influence and impact. And strong leaders have both qualities. It’s not about whether people like you…
For Novices & Seasoned Leaders: The question, “What If…They Don’t Like Me?” is birthed out of selfishness. It’s really not about the people…it’s about you looking at you. Stop and think about that for a moment. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but the fact remains, that when you ask this question, or you allow this question to swirl around your head when you should be leading people, you are being selfish. And leadership is not about you, it’s about the people who are suppose to be following you.