“I want people to like me!”



When I have the privilege of working one-on-one with an employee, I frequently ask, “How do you want to be seen by the people who report to you?” In essence, I’m asking about their identity needs.

On more than one occasion a person in a leadership role will say, “I want my employees to like me.”


Being liked is certainly a good feeling. At the same time, the need to be liked may interfere with a leader’s primary role responsibility – to develop and support employee skill sets and hold people accountable for excellent work. If we don’t hold people accountable, we say, indirectly, “I don’t believe you are capable of achievement.”

Cognitive therapists have identified an irrational belief called The Fallacy of Approval. It’s based on the idea that it is vital to get the approval of all people – even if it means sacrificing the responsibilities associated with one’s role.

So, how do we refute this irrational belief?  One suggestion is to start with the statement, “In my role, I am called to________.” Fill in the blank (s).

Then speak from the perspective of your role: “In my role as Shift Supervisor, it’s my responsibility to ensure safe work practices. What I see here is not safe.”

Presenting yourself in your role may alleviate some of your fear that employees won’t like what you’re saying or asking.  They may not like it – or like YOU in the moment, but I guarantee they will respect your clarity.

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