One of the basic tenets of leadership is that being a leader is not a popularity contest.Â Leaders need to make tough, often unpopular, decisions and can’t be swayed by group opinions.Â It is often said that followers don’t have to like their leader; they just have to respect him.
There is truth in these maxims which are wonderfully dramatized in the classic World War II movie, Twelve O’Clock High, a film widely used to teach leadership principles.Â Gregory Peck, in the starring role, plays General Frank Savage, an Army Air Corps officer sent to take temporary command of an under-performing and demoralized bomber squadron.
Another movie that touches on the same themes is Hoosiers, in which Gene Hackman plays a disgraced college basketball coach, Norman Dale, who comes to small town Indiana to coach a high school basketball team.Â His focus on the fundamentals of the game, unorthodox style, and early season losses turn the town against him, but he ultimately prevails by winning the state championship, becoming the smallest school ever to win the title.
The lead characters in both of these movies followed leaders who were popular with their subordinates, but both Frank Savage and Norman Dale were more interested in gaining respect for their initiatives and for eventual success, not whether they were popular or liked.
Yet there are many things that a successful leader does to ensure success that are both appreciated and liked by their followers.Â Consider that most people:
- Like to do a good job and take pride in their work.
- Like to know that what they do contributes.
- Like to receive feedback on their efforts.
- Like to know the major decisions that affect their organization, their work, and their jobs.
- Like a tough, but fair and consistent boss; one who demands excellence of himself and others.
- Like to understand the big picture.
- Like to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Like to work for a competent and dynamic boss.
- Like to be properly trained to do their job.
- Like to have an interest taken in them as individuals.
- Like to work for a successful and efficiently operated enterprise.
So workers may not like their boss in the sense of being a buddy, but they certainly respect a boss who by the exercise of strong leadership improves their work life, recognizes their efforts, and makes their enterprise successful.
Do the rights things as a leader and your followers will respect and admire you â€“ which, in the final analysis, is far more important and gratifying than liking you!
Thanks and have a great day!
This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers â€” those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.
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