8 Secrets to Rising Above the Pack
Malcolm Gladwell explains the deepest fear of all is being rejected by our peers – “social risk.”
I’m watching the recording of Gladwell’s presentation at the World Business Forum (WBF), “We are hardwired to want the approval of our peers … we want to do what everybody else is doing.”
People pleasing makes you average.
People pleasing anchors progress, smothers creativity, and worst of all, obscures the authentic self. People pleasures run in herds of comfortable social affirmation watching each other for approval.
Bill George said, “Once you get past an IQ of 120, intelligence isn’t the main factor in leadership success, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is.”
EI is the ability to, “monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”
Danger: Sensitivity to the feelings of others transforms insecure leaders into people pleasures. But, feeling approval requires willingness to feel disapproval.
- Love your organization enough to do what’s best for it even if it isn’t what’s best for you. Love defeats fear. Leaders who sacrifice organizational interests on the altar of self-interests aren’t worthy to lead.
- Humbly give yourself to noble ideals like generosity, honesty, creativity, and excellence.
- Read biographies of courageous leaders.
- Use fear to show the way. “I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.” Eleanor Roosevelt
- Embrace the process. Overcoming people pleasing isn’t a once-and-done event.
- Find friends that speak the truth, even when it hurts. You know someone loves you when they wound you for your good.
- Seek council before aggressively challenging the status quo. Don’t overreact.
- Disagree without being disagreeable. Abrasiveness isn’t courage.
How can leaders overcome the pressure to please?
What’s the good side to people pleasing?
Excellent and helpful. Love reading your posts Dan
Thank you Sujay
I struggle with people pleasing. The main thing that’s helped me is realizing that people and relationships can usually handle a lot more than I give them credit for.
Therefore, I shouldn’t cheat them out of my best—or theirs!
Thanks for your candor. Just stepping up to the plate by saying you struggle with people pleasing helps me.
Love your perspective.
I think leaders can overcome the pressure to please by maximizing their support options. They can do it by killing fear of insecurity. The best way to overcome pressure to please is to find out the driver of pleasing. I believe that people please to get their interest or need fulfilled. It means their need is satisfied by others. I also believe that as long as people expect and work in the system that need others to compromise, people will tend to compromise. But when people create their own system, that can provide employment to other, they are less likely to please others. The reason is simple, they have lot of support system, and since it is their own system, so they are their boss.
I believe sincere pleasing has positive effect on relationship and loyalty. But when people please with agendas, then it does harm to others. So, I think sincere pleasing has advantage over insincere and selfish pleasing.
A very pleasing comment. I’m taking your last statement with me.
Sincere pleasing has advantage. I think sincere pleasing includes being both touch AND tender.
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. REad his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-guptaqerwi
‘when people please with agendas’–excellent phrase Ajay. I think that is also when, if we are paying attention our ‘spidey sense’ goes off and sometimes even the hairs on the back of our neck go up…
There’s a big difference between liking people and pleasing people, but I think sometimes we trip ourselves up by confusing the two. If I don’t please you, I must not like you. It takes patience and consistency to build up a track record of doing right and yet valuing relationships. It works best if the good relationships are there before you have to make a tough call. For me, the best way to keep those tough things from being personal is to be right up front not only with what I intend to do, but why, at the same time acknowledging those who won’t be happy with it.
KaChing! I love the distinction between liking people and pleasing people, very helpful.
We could go so far as to say, if I really like you I’m willing to displease you for your benefit or the benefit of the org, hopefully both.
Greg is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He blogs at: http://hippocketleader.blogspot.com/
Well, I am pretty sure if we can resolve the kinds of issues you talk about today, we can save the world! But perhaps we need to start with saving the missions/visions/values of our organizations, which are jeopardized when “people pleasing” takes precedence over focus on the organization’s mission.
Regarding how leaders can overcome the pressure to please, that takes a certain amount of self-awareness and getting past the point where they (we?) are somehow rewarded/mollified by keeping those around us “happy.” So many times I end up thinking about the military when responding to an LF post. I doubt many military personnel who have been in dangerous situations wanted a leader who worried about their happiness; they wanted the leader who best got people around the accomplishment of the goal at hand.
The good side to people pleasing? If anyone loses the desire to please to the extent that they are insensitive, rude, or hurtful, they need to let a smidge of people pleasingness back into their lives.
And I think #7 regarding seeking counsel before addressing the status quo is one of the most important points of the post. It’s important to help leaders “see” the issue before trying to change it. Wise counsel can help you get ideas for how to do that.
Thanks for your comment. Saving the world …wow!! But, they are some pretty big issues.
The emphasis on self-awareness by successful leaders has been a pleasant surprise to me. The most fearful people pleasers may have trouble seeing the issue.
Your comment on #7 is one reason I love blogging. You get immediate feedback. Your take on getting counsel (which I miss spelled and I’ll fix shortly) was not my take. You think of counsel as help with seeing the issues. My take was getting help evaluating how you might come across to others. Let others tell you what they see in you. I think both are true. You extended what I intended. Thank you.
Best to you,
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. She blogs at: http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com/
The continuum of connecting…from grifter to despot–many shades of gray between.
There is a conscious (although less discernible) gradation moving away from people pleasing (polite phrase for suck up?) toward developing receptivity and establishing a positive rapport. It takes time, trust, integrity and accountability to be in that latter realm.
And it is the truly remarkable leader that can come away from an interaction or presentation with people saying, I don’t like and may not agree with what s/he said and at the same time, I believe it, I own it and we need to change…now!
Dan’s points and those in this thread can keep us moving in a healthier direction. Thanks all!
Doc, thanks for sharing your insights. It’s all good but one word popped for me, receptivity. Man thats good. Moving away from people pleasing may result in closing others out. Keep the receptors open… KaChing!
Best to you,
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com
Hi Dan, I am not a fan of people pleasing in the general scheme of things. I derive no benefit from people that work at pleasing others but I do appreciate as mentioned sincere validation for someone’s actions, and accomplishments. The key word here is Sincerity with a capital S. Whatever accolades I bestow on you if disingenuous can alienate you no matter how pleasing I may make it seem. I prefer as you suggest total honesty sans the flattery and embellishment. My mantra to my “circle” is if you really care about me don’t let me live in ignorance nor insult my intelligence with false blessings. The sooner you enlightened me the more “pleased” I will be and the more grateful. I will reciprocate in kind and if done correctly, compassionately, and truthfully, we are all the better for it. True Leaders do not please others, they enrich them with their integrity, honesty, character and humility. Show me a leader that works hard at pleasing others and I will show you an organization without a backbone, floundering, and without direction and chaotic. Catching the pleasing wind is not enough for without a rudder we are lost. Fullfillment, Vibrancy, and Passion in any organization hinges morre on asking may I please and not on pleasing others. Cheers, 🙂
That is one of the key points Al…that sincerity, being real, and caring enough to not leave someone in the dark, no matter how big or small the issue is, no matter who they are and expecting it in return. How you say it is vital too. So, next time Al, when I have a chunk o’ broccoli in my teeth, tell me before I flash my pearly whites! 😉
Excellent post. You can also save time by reading the book summaries at DrDougGreen.Com. Many are leadership oriented. Keep up the good work.
Thank you Dan, very interesting, I subscribed !
This trait, people pleasing, is something I struggled with most of my life, and it definitely has held me back from success I could have achieved.
What courageous leaders would you recommend learning more about?
The first person I can think of is Abraham Lincoln. I think he struggled with people pleasing. Seeing how he learned to make tough decisions might help. I enjoy Doug Conant’s book called Touch Points. I has a good balance between tough and tender.
I would beg to differ on the 1st point. Falling in love with one’s organization leads to one falling into a comfort zone and conforming to processes and rules. Invariably the person might become a people pleaser yet again. A person needs to love his work and not his organization, unless the latter loves him back. EI can be maintained when one is in control of what he/she is doing…
Dan great post. I just stumbled on your blog and am bookmarking it to come back on a regular basis. EI is vital to any leader being able to thrive. If you have strong EI you will be able to navigate the waters of “people pleasing” and understand the social risks more confidently. With that said the “people pleasing” aspect can end up derailing or steering you (the leader) off course of the shared vision of those that you lead. Another factor in people pleasing is that you will give off a certain perception to others which could come back to bite you. It is about balance in the end.
What would be some courageous leadership biographies you would recommend?