Truth or Convenience

Ever hear a manager remark, “my people don’t have to like me, they just have to respect me.” This particular quip stirs up a couple of question for me. First, I wonder how possible it is to actually respect someone you don’t like. Do you hear other people say that, “so and so is a real jerk, but I do respect him.” We can acknowledge someone’s brilliance in a given area, but I am not sure that immediately translates to respect for him or her as a manager or leader, especially if we really don’t care much for the person.

But my second point is the one that puzzles me even more. Why are people so willing to accept these allegedly profound axioms as fact? Even for the like/respect issue, there is quite a bit of evidence that indicates likeability is a contributor to higher effectiveness, so the statement is likely not nearly as valid as it sounds. Yet for some, it is a key driver of their management style.

We all hear things with which we resonate, and those items become quite convenient to accept at face value and adopt. That does not mean they are accurate or helpful. Someone who is a relationship destroyer will naturally look for anything to validate the idea that it is OK to be a one. Once again, I know very few people who have ever said they consistently did their best work when stuck working for a jerk. If you have ever worked with one, you can no doubt relate.

As a leader, you need to reflect on what you truly believe in and most want to stand for, and not be swayed by clever catch phrases. Although these so called statements of advice may sound immediately appealing, you must evaluate them a bit more closely. Leadership is never easy, so do not believe you can be your best by merely adopting other peoples’ opinions as the basis for the way you should lead. You are free to agree (or disagree) with any of these, just give them some deep thought before you make them a part of your leadership philosophy.

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