Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader

Being nice is good for business – until it’s not.

You may think that being a people-pleaser serves you well. Being nice is, well, nice. However, as a leader, this trait will ultimately fail you. It will stop you from expressing your true needs, wants and opinions, and will cause you to make some bad choices.

It also makes leading people a challenge. When things are going well for a people-pleaser, there’s nothing better. But the minute there’s a hint of discord, that’s when it’s very easy to feel that you’re not up to your job.

People-pleasing makes it hard to have difficult conversations, accept criticism or cope with others who are less concerned about pleasing you and don’t mind how their communication comes across to you.

This can mean excessive worry, rumination and a frustrating ability to be unable to say no. In turn, this leads to overwhelm, stress and panic.

Here are five tips to help you manage those people-pleasing tendencies and feel capable of being a more robust leader – without turning into the boss from hell!

1. Think: Time, Boundaries, Breathing. Despite other people attempting to create a sense of urgency around you, in 99% of cases, it’s going to probably be OK to buy yourself some time to make decisions. Being put on the spot can make you feel pressured. Check when they need a decision by and tell them you’ll get back to them. Make it clear that ‘now’ isn’t going to happen! Part of this is learning to set boundaries around your own time and refusing to respond to other’s last minute requests.

It comes with practice.

And if this feels challenging – practice saying it out loud first and learn how to breathe and center yourself so that you can remain calm. You’ll make better decisions and choices from this stance than from a hormone-fueled, knee-jerk panicked reaction.

2. Understand that not everyone is going to like/approve/agree with you or your decisions. And that’s ok – you CAN live with that! It might feel uncomfortable to begin with but we get used to everything given time.

This diagram can be useful to help you explore who ‘matters’ and who doesn’t – we all matter as humans, but we can waste far too much time ruminating over the opinions of people who don’t impact us. It’s also useful to use for tasks, behaviours and so on.

What Matters...

In the center of the diagram, write down every person ( or action/task/behaviour etc.) that really, really matters. This is where your focus should be – for people, these should be the people you need to be listening to and taking notice of. These could be your family, best friends, key clients, customers, your boss, your team…it’s up to you to choose who you put in here.

For the rest of the circles – and add more if you need them – you add people in decreasing importance. People-pleasers may have a tendency to focus too much on the outer circles – the wrong ones!

3. Know that every time you say ‘yes’ at work, you are saying ‘no’ in another part of your life. Every time you say ‘yes’ to a demand at work, you say ‘no’ in another part of your life.

4. Trust yourself. Think back to a time when you felt confident, bold and felt you had the capability to make robust, autonomous decisions that were effective. Did the world grind to halt because you made decisions that may have not won universal approval? Made a mistake or got something wrong? If it matters enough, someone will notice it and you’ll have the chance to put it right won’t you?

5. What really, really matters? I once worked for a boss who would empty her in-tray into the bin, (long before the days of the internet) and said people would contact her again if it was important. And they did. Her cancer diagnosis put things in perspective for her.  Make sure your perspective is one that allows you to focus on what’s really important and concentrate on that. Attempting to be liked of and approved of by everyone you meet will cloud that – honestly.

Emotionally investing heavily in everyone you deal with is exhausting and unproductive. Boundaries are important to help you do your job as a leader well. Striking the right balance between being liked and being able to lead boldly is one that will help you to be as effectively as possible.

Originally posted on Susan Ritchie – Lead with Impact.

Susan Ritchie

Susan Ritchie is a leadership coach who specialises in working with new and aspiring female leaders, helping them develop their leadership presence, so they can lead with confidence, create the right impact and excel in their role. She’s the author of Strategies for Being Brilliant: 21 Ways to be Happy, Confident and Successful.
She can be found at www.susanritchie.co.uk where you can download 5 Steps To Developing Your Leadership Presence – and why not come and say hello on twitter @susanjritchie.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

15 Leadership Quotes to Help You be a Leader, Not a Manager

Sometimes you need a reminder and some inspiration to be a leader, not ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

7 Ways To Build Great Relationships With Your Team

The challenges facing new leaders in a business situation are many and varied. ...

Leaderly Quote: The tasks you let go of…
Leaderly Quote: The tasks you let go of…

“Shoulds” are tasks or obligations we take on, accompanied by an inner monologue that goes,

How to Write a Simple and Beautiful Manifesto
How to Write a Simple and Beautiful Manifesto

Traditionally, a manifesto is a written statement where you publicly declare your… – Intentions (what

Leaderly Quote: Leadership is not about doing more
Leaderly Quote: Leadership is not about doing more

You probably already had a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt before this global

What’s on Your Not-To-Do List?
What’s on Your Not-To-Do List?

Leadership is not about doing more. It’s about switching from doing to leading. From this

100 Leadership Qualities: What’s Your Signature Style of Leading?
100 Leadership Qualities: What’s Your Signature Style of Leading?

There’s an entire industry of books and seminars founded on the assumption that if you

20 Leadership Quotes by Women to Inspire You in 2020
20 Leadership Quotes by Women to Inspire You in 2020

20 of our favorite leadership quotes by women At Be Leaderly, we’re on a mission

Happy Holidays 2019
Happy Holidays 2019

May your Holidays sparkle with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill, and may the year

5 Ways to Shift From Doing to Leading
5 Ways to Shift From Doing to Leading

To become a leader, there is a series of key shifts in mindset and behavior

You Do You: Claim Your Leadership Strengths
You Do You: Claim Your Leadership Strengths

We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to

Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…
Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…

We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2020, Be Leaderly