[October 21, 2014] …and others will hate you for who you are. That is the reality of being a leader of people. Many will want to be around you, listen to what you say, be your friend, want to give you gifts, and do things for you. Others will attack you for any reason whether justified or not, insult you and call you names, and generally disparage you. Having a thick skin is helpful to avoid taking any of these things personal.
Leadership is, of course, no popularity contest. Having people love you, hate you, or not care has never been a requirement to successfully hold a leadership position. More important than having people like you as a leader is having them respect you in that position. When they like you, getting things done is just a little easier, but when they respect you it makes it much easier. The ability to overcome the obstacles thrown in your path by those who dislike you requires skilled statecraft. It is a sign of the times that people have the proclivity to envy others, especially those who have achieved positions of higher responsibility. Expect hate but don’t let them drag you into the depths of their hatred.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.” – Winston Churchill
There is no leader who has not experienced the extremes of the love-hate-uncaring of people. More dangerous are those who are narcissistic. As expected, leaders typically possess traits that most crave to have: positive attitude, approachable, confident, credible, good communicator, and attractive (meaning good personal hygiene plus nice, clean clothing). Leaders also have authority and power in their positions; something that people can use to their benefit. This is not a negative trait of people would like the leader, but a survival feature. People will act on their feelings and desires.
This feature is one of the things we need to know about as leaders. Understanding people is a leader trait and a critical feature of senior leaders. Those who do not understand or cannot predict the behavior of others, are doomed to fail. Leaders know what makes people “tick” – in other words how to “connect” with people. Failure of leaders can always be tracked back to their lack of understanding of people or thinking that they personally are exempt from the psychology of humans.
Leadership is a lifelong pursuit. It means knowing that people will love you for no reason and may, just as likely, hate you too. The greatest of leaders are those who are able to take these feelings and turn them into something good for all.
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