Today in the Leadership Class we had a conversation about the relationship with being friends with those we lead, and being a leader. Out of this discussion came this observation: All leaders come to a time when they have to choose between being liked, or being respected. A leader can be respected, but not liked; and a leader can be liked, but not respected.
This is a tension point for most leaders. We all prefer to be liked, but there are times when we have to make "unlikeable" decisions. Decisions made rightly will result in respect for us, but we may have to trade off likability.
It is not easy, but leaders should choose respect over likability. Respect is a result of making the tough calls. It is choosing the difficult over the easy. It is the courage to confront clearly. It is telling the truth in love. It is the willingness to risk friendship in order to say what needs to be said. It is leading forward in the face of people who want us to ease off and pull back. It is defining reality. It is being honest with oneself and others.
It is true, leaders may not always be liked, but they can be respected. They are not the same. They cannot be pursued at the same time. They can co-exist, but if one does need to go...choose respect!