How many times have you heard that, “Managing your employees is not a popularity contest.” Many leaders love to be liked, so much so that they often make the mistake of basing management decisions on what will be “popular” instead of what is best for the company. These types of leaders are mediocre. As a leader, you’ve got to put company interests ahead of your wish to be liked. These type of leaders play favorites and ensure procedures are not documented so that they can give preferential treatment to their favorites. This is a governance issue resulting in unequal treatment of employees.
As an effective leader or manager it is easy to be liked by the competent ones. Because they require little critique and they take honest feedback for what it is. They like to be accountable and when the leader holds them accountable, they would respect that. Respect is far more valuable and powerful than a popularity contest.
If you want to be liked by everyone, don’t go into management. You’ll either end up unhappy because some of your staff don’t like you, or you’ll be ineffective because you let your desire to be liked overtake your obligations of the job. The irony is that you end up being disliked in the end anyway—because good employees get frustrated when managers won’t address problems, confront slackers, or make tough decisions.
If you can give both negative and positive feedback in a straightforward manner that will earn respect. Be sincere and avoid giving mixed messages. Sincerity says that you mean what you say. Mixed messages are the “yes, but” messages. For example, “Suren, you have worked hard on this job, but. . . .” The word “but,” along with “however” and “although,” when said in the middle of a feedback, create contradictions. In essence, putting “but” in the middle tells the other person, “Don’t believe a thing I said before.”
Be the boss who is highly self-disciplined and clearly committed to the health of the company. Implement strategies to engage employees, create teamwork and get everyone on board to deliver sustainable results. Build your strengths in execution and lead by example. This will lead to respect over time and people will like you for what you do.