There are a lot of things I am working on to improve as a leader, but there is one thing I have seen other leaders struggle with as a consultant, and I have struggled with the same thing. What is it? Worrying too much about what others think, including those we lead.
My personality has always been one of wanting to please. I don’t like people upset, especially at me. It is something that I have worked on personally and have come a long ways.
Now don’t get me wrong, we should care how those we lead think of us. It is normal and to an extent healthy, helping us be more sensitive and empathetic. But when our decisions as leaders are solely made around how others might perceive us, it is too much.
By virtue of our calling as leaders, not everyone is going to agree with us or like us. We must be more concerned with leading, rather than pleasing. If we mostly focus on pleasing, we won’t be effective.We must be more concerned with leading, rather than pleasing. ~Michael RogersClick To Tweet
The reality is people spend a lot less time thinking about you than you think. I heard it once said, you will stop caring about what others think when you realize they don’t. People around you are too worried about what YOU think of THEM to spend time thinking about you!
Here are three tips to help you worry less and focus on the right things more.
1. Check your heart. Is your worrying about how others think of you more about you, or those you lead? In almost all cases it is more about you, than them. Ask yourself this question often, to help you make decisions, or have tough conversations.
A lot of our worrying comes from the validation we looked for as children from teachers and parents, but as a leader this can hamper your effectiveness. You become easily swayed by how those you lead react to anything you bring to them. The result is a leader who can’t make decisions, or is back and forth (called flopping in politics).
2. Don’t create stories. It is natural to create stories, we do it all the time. For example, your friend didn’t text you back the other night so you assume she is upset with you. You begin to create a story as to why she might be upset, with all kinds of twists and turns, until eventually you hope you never see her again. However, you later find out that her phone was stolen, so she had no way of texting you back!
It is important to realize that people are a lot less critical than we give them credit for being. It is easy to create stories about those we lead and how they perceive us. So next time you begin to worry about what others think, remember that it is most likely a lot more favorable than you think. It’s best to avoid creating stories.
3. Focus on your vision. Either you believe in where you want to lead your team and/or organization or you don’t. If you don’t, then it is time to reassess, right? If you do, then stick to it and don’t let what others think interfere. Hey, they all laughed when Noah said he was building an ark, right?
The reality is, you are always going to have some that like you as a leader, and others that don’t. If everyone likes you, I would be concerned. Even some of the most revered and greatest leaders of our time were hated by some population of the people. You will have your enemies, but if your cause is just and your leadership is inspiring, people will follow you and great things things will happen as a result.
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