Many years back, I was attending a conference in Singapore with my HR colleagues from other Asian countries. We were asked to introduce ourselves and to share the legacy we wanted to leave behind with the other people in the organisation. I recall one of my colleagues saying, “I want them to love me.” I thought to myself, “You better find a new job.”  Six months later, she resigned.

There is an English saying: You can’t be everybody’s darling.  Applied to leadership this means that leaders are not necessarily liked by everybody.  Many leaders, however, have fallen into the trap of needing to be loved by their staff or winning their popularity.  Many times they will play an employee advocate role. To be loved, they try to make everyone happy while as leaders they are required to make tough decisions on people. It is impossible we can please everyone.  These contradict agendas always result in their failure as leaders and their failure to fulfil their goal to be loved.  

Leading by fear can be an easy way out for many. These leaders compensate for their lack of people skills, and their lack of confidence, by creating a culture of fear.  They do not listen, do not care for their people and treat them badly. They usually exercise their power and authority by doling out orders and commands. Employees who work under these types of people dare not share opinions or assert ideas. However, the stress, lack of appreciation and feeling of being undervalued while working under someone like this often causes a high staff turnover and before too long, the leader finds themselves with no one left to lead.

We must lead neither by love nor by fear, but by RESPECT. A great leader is someone that leads their people to where they “should” be.  These people may feel uncomfortable, but by believing and trusting in their leader, they follow.

“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” 

 Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

There is a saying, “Position is given, but respect is earned.” Great leaders earn their employees’ respect through proving their integrity as a leader, and demonstrating their character, sense of purpose and competence.

I am then fully aligned with Brett Brinton on this matter.