Gaining Respect, Not Friends – The Key to Career Success
By Carson V. Heady
Often, our best lessons are learned through stumbling and falling, making what we or others deem as mistakes and getting back up, dusting ourselves off and trudging forward.
Sadly, in my career, I have never had a mentor or gotten any coaching or guidance. So, in essence, all of my learning has been through real experience – sometimes very hard-hitting. The beauty is I live a life without regret. I have always been the guy who “goes for it” – no matter what. I will swing at every pitch. Sometimes I miss and sometimes I hit the home run; it seems like it is always one or the other. Babe Ruth hit more home runs than 99% of all players to pick up the bat. He struck out more than all of them as well.
People do not need to like you in order to follow your lead and work hard for you or with you as part of a team. In fact, the perception that people “like” you is exactly what you want to avoid. When you are a rising star, everyone will try to latch onto you. The power and money and charisma attracts people who need and want all sorts of things from you. But beware: when the perception that you can do something for them is gone, they will be, too.
The biggest mistake managers who worked for me over the years made was a mistake I made, too: thinking getting people to like you will get them to work for you. Wrong answer. When they find out what they can and cannot get away with, they will use that to their advantage and you will suddenly find yourself at their mercy. They will not respect you, and respect is what makes the manager-rep, sr. manager-manager and on up the chain relationships work.
Sure, they will smile in your face, but all the time they want to take your place. The O’Jay’s taught us this valuable lesson. But put it into this perspective: how many people would you trust in your home with your wallet on the table and you elsewhere? Those are your friends. The rest are acquaintances. There is little loyalty in business, so guard yourself and your priorities above all else and never give anyone a viable reason to tear you down. Trust me, they will find many non-viable ones all by themselves.
If I am friends with someone who works for me – i.e. have breakfast, lunch or dinner with them, invite them to my daughter’s birthday party, go to movies with them, etc. – they will use that relationship when they want to sleep in, when they want to leave early or when they fail to get the job done. They think I will take care of them or look the other way. And, maybe I did in the past. But, as I alluded to in the beginning, I learned many lessons the hard way and will not make those mistakes again.
Your team members need to know what you expect, how you want it done and, most importantly, that you are going to follow up to ensure it will be done. The fact consequences will befall them if they fail to deliver is imperative as well.
In the end, the best way to determine if someone is really your friend or if they are an acquaintance or business associate is this: need something from them. Ask them for something that requires effort. If they run for the hills, you have your answer.