October 26

The Likability Trap

Everyone wants to be liked. And there’s nothing wrong with being liked. However, there’s a dynamic that I call “the likability trap.” Some creative pros, especially leaders, begin to believe that the key to earning their team’s respect is to be liked. So they do everything they can to ensure that others like them. However, sometimes—as you well know—the right thing to do may not be the popular thing to do.

That’s why I believe that you cannot chase being liked and being effective at the same time. You can be both liked and effective, but you can’t chase both. At some point, you will be forced to choose between the two.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with being liked. Just make certain that your desire to be liked isn’t interfering with your ability to make wise, even if unpopular, decisions.

To be effective, you will occasionally have to do things that aren’t liked by your team. However, making the wise choice, according to prin- ciple, will earn respect. (And you may be liked as well.)

You cannot pursue being liked and being effective simultaneously.


is there any place where you are compromising your effective­ ness to be liked?

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