5 Ways NOT to be Liked as a Leader

By | March 30, 2021

[March 30, 2021]  Spring is here, and people are getting out more, going to work, shopping, and just walking around their neighborhoods.  As a leader, if you want to feel better, make your boss happier, and help your family, then being liked will help.  Here are five ways NOT to be liked as a leader.

We hear about the importance of respect in the workplace but less about the need for a leader to be liked.  It’s a sign of changing times.  Today’s jobs – in the West – are seeing an adjustment in the way we work together.  Not only are we more casual in appearance and are willing to flatten the authority hierarchy, but people want to be where they can trust and appreciate their boss.

Today, a well-liked leader is desirable at work because they are easier to work with.  A friendly, pleasant personality reduces stress and tension.  Such qualities are long-term assets that make the workplace more efficient and effective.

The more you are liked, the more people trust you and have confidence you will succeed.  Following a likable person is suitable for everyone.  Warning; trying too hard to be liked or trying to be popular can be counterproductive.

Here are five ways not to be liked as a leader:

  1. Ignore the needs and desires of your co-workers. Showing you don’t care or being focused only on yourself.
  2. Act in ways that destroys trust. Lying, cheating, picking favorites, and playing office politics.
  3. Have a bad attitude. See the negative side of every situation.  Walk with a chip on your shoulder.  Assume everyone is out to get you.  Playing the victim.
  4. Ignore important life dates and don’t acknowledge people. Don’t pay attention to wedding dates, birthdays, children’s births, or any significant event in the life of your co-workers.
  5. Don’t keep your promises. Those who make commitments, make promises (stated or implied), or assurances and don’t keep them will quickly lose the faith of those working with them.

Learning how to be well-liked and stay that way requires effort.  Sometimes that is not easy.  It does, however, take plenty of practice.  Now that Spring is here, start practicing.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “5 Ways NOT to be Liked as a Leader

  1. Chaucer II

    Yup, definitely good list. Here’s a simple summary— don’t lie, cheat, or steal.

  2. Brutus Garabaldi

    Thanks, Gen. Satterfield, well said. Your list is impressive. 👍

    1. old warrior

      I think you would be surprised. Little is to be taken for granted in this upside down world of ours. Good is bad and bad is good. Evil like BLM and Antifa organizations are seen as doing good for our country while they are rioting, looting, murdering and beating up innocents, stealing, and engaged in drugs and other violent behavior. Just think that anyone who tells you that is okay, has got to be nuts.

  3. Dern McCabe

    An excellent article and a list of 5 ways that we all have made mistakes on.

  4. Dead Pool Guy

    Another spot-on article. Well done!! True enough that in the Western world leaders must be “liked” or perhaps “respected” might be a better term. If you are not respected, then people will not follow or listen to you. Just a few thoughts here.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Yes, interesting. So, what is it, respect or likability? The two are interconnected.

      1. Scotty Bush

        Good point but I think it is up to Gen. S and the rest of us to help untangle it for clarity. Whenever we get into conversations with others on this issue, best to have the argument clearly laid out in our heads in advance.

      2. Harry B. Donner

        True enough. Excellent article to start off my week. Keep these ideas coming our way, Gen. Satterfield.

  5. JT Patterson

    Great article. Thanks for getting my thinking cap in gear.
    My favorite one, #2. Act in ways that destroys trust. Lying, cheating, picking favorites, and playing office politics.
    This is a pretty wide category and explains a bunch. Thanks.

  6. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    I believe that a well-like leader is LESS desirable than one who is success always. People like you but your fail and they are out of a job or you lose the game. What good is that?

    1. corralesdon

      Good question, Otto. Yep, if you are a loser, then being liked is unimportant.

  7. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Plenty of ways not to be liked. I can think of many more but Gen. Satterfield’s point is well taken … don’t fall into this trap. Be a good person and be tolerant of others. But don’t also be a pushover.

  8. Kenny Foster

    Don’t “have a bad attitude.” CORRECT! I’ve seen plenty of folks with a bad attitude and I’ve found the main reason is that they are easily lead astray by others. They are plenty of priviledged folks in this category. I see them all the time. They believe the world owes them something and that they must have it now. Like spoiled children, they dance thru the day without any awareness of their lack of a need to get along with others and do their job. Humble, ha, far from it.

    1. Big Al

      Interestingly, and I don’t mean this as racist, but my observation is that black women are the pinnacle of having a bad attitude. Seems like all those I meet have this problem. Frankly, I can almost understand. They are not respected by anyone, especially by black men who treat them like garbage.

      1. Steve Dade

        I’m not so sure Big Al, but I see what you mean. When we tell any group that another group keeps them down, then expect an attitude. Yep!

      2. Yusaf from Texas

        Big Al, many would think you are ‘racist’ and will ignore your point. Talking about the elephant in the room can make you enemies of the state.

        1. ARay Pittman

          Well said, Yusaf. I know that the “woke” cannot see what is right in front of their faces. That is what a strong ideology does for you. It makes you blind to reality. The world is complex and hard on those who are stupid. That is why the “woke” are having such a hard time in life. Their are triggered by reality.

        2. Wendy Holmes

          Excellent point. They cannot see what they cannot see because they are willfully blind.

    2. Max Foster

      American is a country run on propaganda that the white man is bad and should be destroyed. If you are one of the “out groups” (read that as not a white man) then you will feel trampled upon. Attitude? Not surprising. The real issue is why is this false propaganda allowed and common sense not prevail?

  9. Silly Man

    Yes, a fine list to have and to adhere to. Flexible, spot-on, and useful. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. 😊

  10. Frank Graham

    Good list. Follows a similar theme as does Gen. Satterfield’s entire blog. I like the repetition of key elements of leadership, living well, and adopting responsibility for your family, community, and nation.


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