Is Managing a Popularity Contest?

Is it possible to be a respected manager and well-liked? Yes. I don’t think these two are mutually exclusive but if you must choose one, my suggestion is choose respect!

While it is human nature to want to be liked, sometimes being a successful manager means you need to make unpopular decisions.  You must be the adult in every situation that impacts your staff and your organization.

Managers have a clear role to play. You’ve been tasked with managing a staff in order to accomplish the work to meet your organization’s mission.  Managing people involves giving clear direction and setting expectations.  Frequently, this involves resolving conflicts and having difficult conversations which may not make you win any popularity contests.

If you are hesitating to take needed action because you are afraid your staff won’t like you any more, you really need to consider if you’re cut out to be a manager. Some people aren’t and do much better as individual contributors. But, if you want to succeed as a manager, focus on being the best manager you can even if that means you may not be always beloved by your staff.  

What you really want is your team to respect you as their leader because they know the actions you take are in the best interests of the organization and in the best interest for them as individuals.

Focus your attention on helping your staff members meet their goals. Set reasonable expectations and hold people accountable for their commitment.  This also means you need to keep your commitments so that your team knows they can count on you to support them in achieving their full potential.

If you build their trust, support them in their personal development, and reward them for their accomplishments, they will, most likely, respect you.  And, respect is something that you really, really want from your team. If you have their respect, whether they “like” you or not will not matter and you will be successful!

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