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6 Reasons Why People Who Let Go Of Being Liked Have Better Careers

6 Reasons Why People Who Let Go Of Being Liked Have Better Careers

There is a common problem that holds many people back. And that is the desire to please everyone and be liked by all. So often we mistakenly think that to get ahead in our careers we need everyone all around us to like us. But, if you are constantly worrying about everyone liking you, you are wasting a lot of time on trivialities. If you are always going out of your way to make sure this person – and everyone else – likes you, you’re wasting resources and energy, and you won’t be as effective at your job.

Don’t get me wrong: being liked by colleagues isn’t bad. However, you can’t please everyone all the time and you shouldn’t even try. You don’t need to be unnecessarily mean or bossy either to get ahead. That’s often just as counter-productive as trying to be well-liked. What you do need is to let go of the idea that you have to be liked by everyone at work to succeed.

Convinced yet?

Some of the most successful people in business today like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Google’s Larry Page, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz all have said that they really don’t care to please everyone, and that has been central to their success.

Admittedly, it can be tough to let go of the desire to please everyone. However, people who let go of being liked by everyone ultimately have better careers than those who don’t let go. Here are six reasons why:

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1. They can say no, and it won’t bother them.

That’s because they are empowered. It doesn’t bother them to say “no” to anything that’s not a priority, which means they are unlikely to fall victim to agreeing to things that don’t align with their values or goals just to keep everyone happy.

In an interview with award-winning journalist Betsy Morris about the secrets to Apple Inc.’s success and the prospects of the company succeeding without him, Steve Jobs said:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.”

2. They can give honest and unambiguous feedback.

People who let go of being liked can give honest feedback because they don’t tremble at the thought of upsetting a few people with the truth. Ultimately, honest and unambiguous feedback helps the whole team improve and facilitates workplace advancement.

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Again Steve Jobs was a model for why prioritizing results over likability leads to more success in business and life. He believed that beating around the bush in order to save people’s feelings was a form of selfishness.

As Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive recently recounted in The New Yorker, Jobs helped him to see that a deep desire to be liked can undercut the need to give clear, unambiguous feedback. Being vague to spare someone’s feelings is actually an act of vanity.

3. They can take more risks and go for what they want.

People who let go of being liked don’t let what others think stop them from reaching for their dreams. They take more risks and go for what they want. Their courage in risk taking is often rewarded with the perfect role that gives them all the flexibility, fulfillment and joy that they could ever want.

Unfortunately, most people are risk averse and don’t reach for their dreams. Recruitment consultants have mentioned how the greatest challenge they see among female job candidates securing ideal roles is their tendency to be risk averse, and also to worry unnecessarily about what people will say of their ambitions.

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Bill Gates says it right, “To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.”

4. They can make tough calls and stick to their guns.

People who let go of being liked are not afraid to make tough or controversial decisions. They can stand their ground without being ruffled by people’s disapproval of them or their decisions. That is because they are self-assured and don’t really care for pleasing everyone. Instead, they are more interested in reviewing the data, suggestions and feedback objectively and getting things done effectively – not on whether or not their decision will be liked by everyone. And that is what makes them great leaders.

Consider all the great leaders you can think of in business and government. What makes them excel at their job? It’s their understanding that sometimes an unpopular decision is just what’s best for business. It’s their ability to make the hard decisions for the greater good of those concerned.

5. They can focus on core goals and pay less attention to sideshows.

People who let go of being liked don’t easily get caught up in what others are saying. This means they are not easily distracted from the goals they’re working toward. When others are busy engaging in petty office gossip or politics, they simply don’t pay much attention to all of that. They remain focused on what matters, which is how their work impacts the bottom line. That ensures they get ahead at work.

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In the end, getting the job done right is what matters for your company’s success and your own career growth and development.

6. They can be themselves always.

People who let go of being liked are free to be their true selves. They can express themselves, their likes, their dislikes, their personality without fear of what others will say. They know the need for approval kills freedom and drowns your own voice. It holds you back from speaking your opinions and forces you to hide your true self in an effort to be someone others will like.

Chinese military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu says, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle for a better career, knowing yourself, focusing on your priorities and moving past pleasing others is the key to success. You shine and excel in your career when you let go of being liked and live your life in alignment with what is most important to you.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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