Encouraging The Heart
A couple of things stood out to me as I read Encouraging the Heart. The first was the idea that the best leaders actually want to be liked. Not caring what others think, including not caring about the opinions of those who follow us, is actually an attitude for losers and leads to less effectiveness. I think that idea is counter-intuitive for most leaders.
Often leaders shy away from the idea of wanting to be liked. It seems connected to the idea of pandering or people-pleasing. It implies making decisions to be or become more popular. And in the worst case, that is exactly what it is, often rooted in our own insecurities. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
People will work harder for leaders they like, give them the benefit of the doubt when questions arise, and be more likely to support their new initiatives. Wise, healthy leaders know that and want to be liked. Rather than pursuing that by pandering in some way, they will work at being good leaders—leaders who encourage people to be the best they can be, who hold high standards, give good feedback, and help people succeed. Those kinds of leaders will be liked and reap the benefits of the people’s affections.
The other thing that struck me was an old truth—that people don’t follow good leadership techniques, they follow the person. The best leaders know that and focus energy on finding their own voices, so they will be authentic rather than just echoes of someone else. People spot fakes; they can spot people who aren’t real, who aren’t authentic. It’s ironic, really, because many people who want to be effective leaders put a great deal of time and effort into developing their leadership skills. And although I think that’s a good thing, it’s not as important as living our beliefs in ways that others want to emulate. In these times, especially, people are looking for leaders they can respect, trust, and look up to. That doesn’t come from technique; it comes from character and integrity.