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Leadership is NOT a Popularity Contest

Leadership quote by Ken Blanchard

In an ideal world managers would set reasonable expectations of their staff, and their staff would be accountable for meeting those expectations.

Once targets were met, management would set new goals and the cycle would continue.  

The manager would not need to oversee the work, micro-manage their people or insert themselves into the process until the work was complete.

“Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door. The name of the game is to lead without a title.”  

Robin S Sharma

In the real world, communication is not as clear as we would like, priorities change constantly, one manager is not as efficient as the next and the same with staff.  

Some people accept accountability and others don’t, teams have issues and people are people.

Hence a need for a steady communication, and a means to track progress to ensure that everyone is where they need to be.

The right balance of management involvement is always tough to determine, but a  manager’s natural tendency will err on the “more often” than “less often”.

The employee ‘s preference will be “less often” rather than “more often”!  

This is just a  reality of the work place!

What is a new manager to do?  

Particularly if they have been promoted such that they were in the “less often please” camp previously!

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” 

Tony Blair

  1. Leadership is not a popularity contest.  Leaders (managers) need to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

  2. Human nature says that very often, but not always, people will take advantage of their relationship with you … see #1!

  3. As a manager you have a duty to your employer, which usually involves meeting targets and completing projects etc.  That should be your driving force … see #1.

  4. The old phrase, “You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is worth remembering, as long as your team are responding.  If employees “earn” the right for more autonomy then give it, just don’t forget #1.

  5. If employees are not performing, have unacceptable behaviors or are disruptive in any way you MUST address it, and quickly. It does nobody any favors if things reach a point of frustration that causes drastic action … quitting or being fired!  So remember #1, and have the tough conversations.

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.”   

Mary D. Poole

The management role is tough but if you adopt a leadership mentality, have the best interests of your team at heart and do the right things (not the easy things) you will do well!

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada's hot jobs are? Visit the Eagle Job Board!


I write these articles with the intent of sharing MY experience and knowledge gained during MY life journey. From the 16 year old joining the Royal Navy, through many incarnations, to the grey haired guy who built a business. If you find a nugget here, then I am happy. If the message offends you then I apologise, that was never my intent. I know and recognize there are many people and groups who have a far bigger challenge than I have had and I only wish you well.