“How can I get anything accomplished when I have to be worried all the time about whether people like me?”
Is this thought familiar to you? It’s a common frustration for the leader who is committed to employee engagement and positive culture, yet has responsibility for making change and driving performance as well. Is it necessary to have to choose between pleasing others and performing?
This piece from Harvard Business Review offers specific about what an over-focus on being liked leads to: paralysis, over-inclusion, accommodation, tolerating poor performance. Have you seen this in action?
There is the leader who won’t make a decision and implement actions for fear of backlash. Then there is the leader who is constantly convening “input” meetings and polling people through formal and informal ways. You see a leader consumed with putting out small, internal fires in the spirit of keeping people happy, regardless of whether these actions support the progress of the business. And then there is the leader who doesn’t hold others accountable for performance.
And what is the business impact of this “pleasing” dynamic? In a word, significant.
Most offices have the superhuman employee. Sometimes whole companies are made of these working-a-million-hours-always-taking-on-more-ever-so-committed people. Are you one of the superhumans? Are you requiring others to be?
This topic is on my mind a lot right now for several reasons. For the past two weeks, I've been bombarded with articles, videos, and conversations on this subject. It's to the point of being eerie. Have you been reading a lot about this as well? Additionally, this topic resonates with me because I certainly wrestle with the inclination to try to be superhuman. I'm working a lot now on addressing that because I know it's not healthy for me or my family. I also do not I do my best work under these circumstances, which means it's not fair to my clients.
The first nudge on this topic was this article on 60-hour work weeks that my friends at Dress for Success Indianapolis shared. It's short and I found it hard-hitting. If we are working 60-hour work weeks, SOMETHING IS WRONG. I don't know how many times I've said that phrase to myself lately. I love that the article talks about the prospect that maybe our job is ill-designed and resources are limited...it's not just pointing a finger at being a perfectionist or workaholic (although those can be issues, too).