Is the desire to be liked preventing you from being an effective leader?

6 June 2019 | Less than a minute to read

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Is the desire to be liked preventing you from being an effective leader?

6 June 2019 | Less than a minute to read

< Back to blogs

A recent client of mine told me that being respected and liked as a leader was really important to him. This has got me thinking over the last couple of weeks about what it means to be respected and liked. And whether they are both necessary in leadership.


To be respected as a leader we need to have a strong idea of what we will and won’t accept, to hold ourselves and others accountable, to treat others equally and fairly. We respect others that are confident in their abilities, that have a high standard of performance and personal integrity.

All these qualities require a focus on yourself. They are things that, as individuals, we have complete control over. We each define how we let others interact with us, what we will accept. We define how we carry ourselves, how we talk, communicate and act. Being respected and respectful of others then is an important leadership skill that we can learn.

Empathy and caring for others

This is also an important leadership skill.

In order to be empathetic as a leader we need to be present to listen to others around us. We need to take time and focus, on what is in front of us rather than make assumptions. Empathetic and caring leaders are open to ideas, they are able to reflect and consider situations from different perspectives. Empathy and Caring is about valuing the contribution from others and showing compassion and enthusiasm.

Here the focus is again on our own behaviour. It doesn’t stem from the behaviour and actions of others. It stems from a confidence and value in our own self-worth and what we bring to the table as leaders and as individuals.


Being liked

Is being liked a leadership quality? If we are respected, do we also need to be liked?

When we desire to be liked we want to please others. We are seeking their approval.  Being liked by others is about whether they can see something in us that is attractive to them. That might be that you listen well, work hard and have a great sense of humour but it could equally be because you share a love of guns, like the same tv shows and are good at telling stories.

Being liked can be an exhausting endeavour. We ultimately have no idea what will be attractive to others. The more that we seek the approval of others the less we are focused on being authentic to who we are.

Being liked is not our choice. It is not up to us. It is the choice of others. In this sense it is not a leadership skill as we have no control over it. It also gets in the way of being confident, understanding our value and standing up for what we believe in. The desire to be liked can actually prevent us then from gaining respect and empathy which are crucial f


If others like us for who we are as leaders, great. If not, I know I would rather be respected for who I am as a leader.