Many managers secretly worry about how much their employees like them.
Many worry that they have to have the highest levels of work knowledge and capability in every area amongst their team.
Such worries are commonplace. We train dozens of managers weekly – many at a senior level – who have allowed these thoughts to lead them into traps such as the inability to delegate or to build a cohesive team where people take responsibility.
The good news is there’s a simple way to stop worrying:
Does it matter if people like you?
It helps for sure, but a manager needs to consider this; we like many people but how we respect them differs. A good friend may be liked and respected as such but they may not necessarily have your respect when it comes to, say, legal advice, medicine or their knowledge on the current state of world crop prices, for example.
But I do need to know more than them, right?
No. In fact in many cases it might help if a manager has none of the technical knowledge needed by their team. There would certainly be no problem with delegation, micromanagement or sharing information then.
The skills that will make them a good manager are leadership skills. Of course technical and proprietary knowledge are useful but a skilled leader is a skilled leader forever and will always run a better performing team than a manager still trying to be the best at the day job.
Managers who pass on skills and allow others to take responsibility never need to hold onto knowledge for the purpose of their own ego.
So what of respect?
You can be liked and entirely disrespected – even by those who seem to like you and are always nice to you.
You can have great technical knowledge and skill and run a shambolic team.
If you give people the ability to perform well in their roles; if you treat people well and fairly (and that means setting boundaries and dealing with poor performance even-handedly too); if you get a team working together then people will respect you.
Ironically when people start to respect you they often start to like you. They also see your leadership knowledge and capabilities.
But start with respect.
Don’t start with trying to be liked, that’ll follow.
And as a manager remember your leadership skills are the capabilities that will drive your success and that of your team.