Florin Lungu - How to Avoid the People-Pleasing Trap and Lead with Confidence

As a young leader, my biggest fear was rejection. 

I was desperate for my team to like me and to be on board with my vision. 

I went out of my way to make them feel valued and supported, but I soon realized that this approach could be detrimental to my leadership.

One day, I made the mistake of overpromising my team, something I couldn’t deliver. Everyone was disappointed, and I felt rejected. 

My manager scolded me for giving false hopes, and I realized I had let my desire for approval cloud my judgment as a leader.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of balancing my team’s needs with the organization’s needs. It’s not enough to simply make people feel happy and valued. 

As John C. Maxwell once said, “A leader’s role is not to make people happy. It’s to challenge them to be their best.”

As a leader, we are responsible for guiding our team towards their best and making difficult decisions in the organization’s best interest, even if it means that some team members may not be happy with the outcome. 

We must remember that our role is not to be liked but to lead.

To lead effectively, we must first recognize and flex our leadership style to strike the right chord with our team. 

If you need to figure out what kind of leader you are, take this free leadership assessment to gain clarity.

If, like me, you struggle with people-pleasing leadership, here are some tips to help you shift your approach:

  1. Reevaluate your leadership priorities: As a leader, your first priority should be the organization you serve, followed by what’s best for the people within the organization and your needs.
  2. Value others and yourself equally: It’s important to recognize that everyone, including yourself, is valuable. As a leader, you shouldn’t undervalue others or overvalue yourself.
  3. Communicate expectations up front: Clear job descriptions and candid hiring conversations can eliminate many awkward situations. Be upfront about your expectations from the start.
  4. Answer the difficult questions before they are asked: Like preparing for the birth of a child, it’s essential to ask yourself the tough questions in advance so that when the time comes to act, you’re prepared and confident in your decisions.
  5. Have tough conversations correctly: When confronting a team member, separate the person from their behavior and the situation, be clear about what you’re addressing, and ask for their perspective before reiterating their position on your terms. Make an effort to understand them and ensure they know you.

Remember, as a leader, it’s not your job to make everyone happy. Your job is to lead and guide your team toward their best. Use these tips to help you strike the right chord with your team and lead with confidence.

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