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Leadership Downfalls of Being a People Pleaser

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:23 PM

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I find in helping professions, half or more of the audience are pleasers. We love to support,help and be there when others need us. It makes us feel good. 

Trouble is you can’t please everyone all the time; you end up feeling pulled in every direction and exhausted.

The one quality people need from us as leaders is consistency. I had a manager who was a pleaser. He was always cheering us on, supporting and praising us, until he wasn’t. More and more often he would get angry and belligerent, yelling at us. I resigned. I told him if you're going to be a jerk, be a jerk all the time, then at least we know what to expect.

People need consistency in relationships, especially from their leaders. Without it, we can feel insecure.

Is it easier to be consistent if you are a people pleaser? Alternatively, is it easier to be consistent if you are more disciplined, rule-bound, inflexible or stern in your ways?

If you are a pleaser, you can be inconsistent because your values revolve around helping others. We can’t control the level or timing of that help so will often feel torn and unable to support others consistently.

If you are more disciplined and rule-bound, the helping parameters will be more apparent to others.

Taken further, if you are confident and helpful versus negative or confrontational, people rely on you more often. Whereas with difficult people, others learn to steer clear of you.

Thus, for some, it is a lot easier to be consistently difficult than to be always positive. Keep in mind the virtue of being positive does not undermine your ability to be clear and give people direction. 

It's great to be a cheerleader for others however in critical moments usually what they need is clear communication, leadership, and direction. 

To be consistent, you need to be clear on policies, routine and procedures and make sure people follow through. When they don't, coach them on it. Your goal is not to be a friend, but a leader.

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