Here's Why a Good Leader Shouldn't Be People-Pleaser

Published March 7th, 2019 - 07:43 GMT
You're there to do your job, as are the rest of your colleagues. (Shutterstock)
You're there to do your job, as are the rest of your colleagues. (Shutterstock)

You're not here to win a popularity contest, my first boss told me when he found me in a melancholy mood a week or so after I was promoted to become a team-lead on the editorial desk. I'd happened to overhear my 'friends' talking about me, and it was unflattering.

These were the same bunch of people with whom I shared a tremendous rapport - we'd go out for lunches and dinners, exchange office gossip, hitch a ride, and some of us often crashed out for the night at a colleague's place near the office after particularly long night shifts. We were thick as thieves.

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There were a thousand questions in my head. What happened? How could they? I mean, I was one of them. I am one of them. I overheard my bestie mimic me saying (imagine a hoarse voice) "these corrections should be over by 3, okay?" And no, he wasn't even close. I've heard better since, but that isn't the point! I was sick to my stomach at what I thought was a betrayal. So why did they suddenly start 'hating' me? "Because you're their boss now," the wise old (well, not-so-old) executive editor of the business fortnightly told me. "No one likes a demanding boss. Tough luck," he told me, and asked me if I hadn't ever done the same to him (my boss) behind his back, and if that meant that I 'hated' him.

Of course, I didn't confess to him at the time that I mimicked him all the time (better than anyone else in the office), but I did realise that it definitely didn't mean that I had any ill-feelings toward him. He gave me three tips to "deal with it" (his words, not mine): Stop making small chat with your direct reports; make new friends, preferably outside the workplace, and don't try to please everyone around. Of course, it doesn't mean going around antagonising your staff on purpose, but remember that the human instinct is to detest authority, especially if that 'authority' pushes one to work harder and deliver more. You're there to do your job, as are the rest of your colleagues. Make it pleasant, for sure, but don't try to be a people-pleaser.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Al Bawaba Business or its affiliates.


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