Would you rather be respected or liked?

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Managers thrive on respect, yet some think they can be truly effective without being liked.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’d rather be respected than liked”? Ironically, I’ve never heard a manager say they would rather be “liked.” Managers thrive on respect, yet some think they can be truly effective without being liked. However, I’ve found that most people have a hard time respecting someone they don’t like. There is an interaction between respect and liking.

Think of someone you once respected, but no longer do. How did your liking of this person change? It probably decreased too. If you liked this person more, would your respect increase? Probably. It seems like respect and liking are somehow linked, so increasing or decreasing one also changes the other. The most effective managers and leaders are liked and respected by their peers, employees and customers.

I flinch when I hear a manager say “I’d rather be respected…” Too often it’s because they realize they aren’t liked, yet cling to respect. They believe that respect comes along with the title or that they can create respect by a certain management style. They insulate themselves from “liking” by acting overconfident, imposing rigid rules and micromanaging, which creates a downward spiral of disrespect and dislike.

This difficult situation can be changed. If you’ve been thinking about this, the first step to turning things around is opening a frank discussion with someone who can guide you into stronger self-awareness. The good news is that understanding how you can be both liked and respected at work will transform your personal relationships as well. Please leave a comment or contact me if you’d like to talk.