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The Difference Between Being Liked And Respected

Is it better to be liked or respected?

It's an age old question. In fact, it's frequently asked in job interviews as aspiring managers are queried about what they think of the topic. Before you continue on and read my opinion, stop for a minute. Think about how you, as a leader, would answer this question. Take all the time you need and then keep reading onward when you're ready.

Okay, glad to have you back! What did you pick? Being liked or respected? Why?

Let me pose another question: is the answer that black and white?  From personal experience, I can tell you, that I don't ever recall liking someone I didn't also respect.

However, if we're always focused on being liked that won't necessarily make us truly effective leaders. A good sense of humor, displaying empathy, working as part of a team, and being agreeable are all excellent qualities that draw people to like us.

Inevitably though, as leaders, we sometimes need to make decisions that aren't "popular" to elevate performance. Issuing edicts, making threats, and instilling fear into others, may lead to bottom line results in the short term, but that certainly is not leadership and definitely won't make us likeable. Fear, though often misconstrued, is not associated with respect either.

Instead, what if we communicate the reasons behind why these sometimes tough decisions are being made? Wouldn't it go a long way in not only securing “buy-in” from the team, but also earn their respect? Dare I say, “they may even like us.”

So, if you were to ask me, “Would I rather be liked or respected?” My response is always, “Are those options mutually exclusive? No? Then, I choose to be both!”

Think about how others react and respond to you. How are you 'showing up' every day and leading with intention? When you do, "respect" and "like" are always sure to follow...

Live (and lead) on fire!

D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

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