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Being a Likeable Boss – February 2020

Exclusively for members of Leaders Excellence at Harvard Square, Being a Likeable Boss is the topic and lecture series in February.

 

Preface

While many who enter into management and leadership roles want to be genuinely liked by the workers they supervise, seeking popularity for its own sake can be a dead-end path. Many have tried to lead while seeking popularity only to find that, indeed, they are loved but not respected. Becoming a more likeable boss however does not mean you have to sacrifice respect. However, being a likeable boss and a respected boss does mean you have to learn to be more effective. This month’s topic helps you take the first steps on what will be a continuous journey towards becoming a more effective boss, the side effects of which are both likeability and respect.

 

Is it Better to be Loved or Feared?

This famous question comes down to us from Niccolo Machiavelli, a political theorist who lived in Italy during the Renaissance. He contended that a leader who is feared is preferable to a leader who is loved. However, he also lived during a time of great political instability where city governments changed in a flash, usually violently, and usually involving executions of the previous leadership. Since we no longer live in an age where stepping down from a leadership position or being removed would involve the loss of one’s head, do we really need to adopt the route that proved so disastrous for such ruthless dictators as Saddam Hussein and Augusto Pinochet?

 

The Case Against Either

The problem in leadership isn’t being more loved nor is it being feared more. Both have their upsides, but each also has its downside. Beloved leaders might be popular, but they might also be easily manipulated and put into unnecessary situations where it feels as if the inmates are running the asylum. Conversely, those who use fear as a leadership tactic frequently have to deal with such issues as insubordination or dishonesty from their employees. In addition, a work environment that is marked by fear turns into a poisonous place to work. Authoritarian leaders often experience higher rates of turnover from their employees. This means time that might otherwise be productively spent is now redirected towards training new employees. Any efficiency such a leader hoped to gain by cracking the whip has been lost when employees won’t stay for any length of time. There must be a middle way.

 

The Middle Ground

Since both leadership styles have both upsides and downsides, perhaps the best approach is to be a little bit of both. Like an authoritative leader, you want to have clear boundaries with clear consequences, but you do not want to create a fearful and poisonous work environment where everyone is trying to stab each other in the back and no one will tell you the truth, but whatever you want to hear.

 

This Month’s Topic Includes:

• Is it Better to be Loved or Feared?
• Leadership as Service
• Leadership by Design
• Understanding Motivation
• Constructive Criticism
• The Importance of Tone
• Trusting Your Team
• Earning the Trust of Your Team
• Building and Reinforcing Your Team
• You are the Boss of You

 

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