What Nobody told You about Being a Good leader: Why Being Liked is as Important as Being Respected at the Workplace

Margaret Thatcher once famously said: “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

It’s a terrific quote from the great lady, but sadly thrown around quite generously by misguided leaders everywhere across the globe. Misguided because Thatcher was referring to people who “set out to be liked,” not those who used likability as a strength.

Being respected is important at the workplace; there’s hardly a soul who would refute that. But, an equally critical aspect of being a terrific leader in this day and age is being liked.

It’s definitely a sign of the changing times. Since startups now thrive in large numbers everywhere, leaders have had to change their approach to succeed in these small and dynamic workplaces. This new approach, once mastered at the startup level, later seeped into the traditional corporate space, resulting in an overhaul of the traditional boss-employee way of leadership.

Today, a leader who is well-liked is preferred at work because they’re easy to work with. A nice, affable personality dilutes both the stress and tension accompanying regular work and any unhealthy feelings of competition and animosity — a quality that sets them apart as potential leaders for the long-term.

A well-liked leader also comes across as more approachable than someone who lets respect come in the way. This benefits the team and the organization positively, allowing the easy flow of ideas between the team members and within the organization — a critical factor for the growth of a business.

Conflicts also tend to get resolved more easily with a likable leader at the helm. Although conflicts are a natural occurrence at the workplace, they cause a serious lack of motivation and productivity for the teammates involved. Quick and easy resolution can help pave the way for faster progress within the organization.

As a likable leader, your team will trust you to be fair and understanding at the workplace — and that’s a key ingredient for a team’s success in achieving their goals and objectives.

Leaders who only thrive on respect, on the other hand, come across as people who sway to their own tunes and make decisions as they deem fit.

So, while striving to be respected is an important part of professional life, the changing organizational landscape requires that one pays equal attention to being liked — that’s the way forward for effective leadership across the globe.


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