Today, i want to talk about something that’s very important in business yet often over looked… Being Friendly While Being A Leader!
We’ve all heard the phrase many times, “It’s a dog eat dog world out there.” The trouble is, some leaders actually believe it. They conduct themselves like the alpha dog in a pack, holding sway through intimidation. This instinctive behaviour helps ensure survival in a dog world but applied to the human world of organizational dynamics, it can lead to total disaster.
Alpha dog leadership in fact can actually turn out to be very destructive to the people, the organization and the leaders themselves.
After all, the main role of a leader in whatever capacity, is to get results and the best results possible. An alpha-dog leader might chew up people to get more results faster but it takes a far different personality trait to get those same results but in a gentler, kinder, more helpful way. That trait is FRIENDLINESS!
Having a friendly attitude as a leader means getting rid of the alpha-dog way of leadership and replacing it with a more cordial way in all of your relationship dealings, even in times of anger and stress — in fact, ESPECIALLY in times of anger and stress.
So with that outline in mind, here are 7 reasons why doing things the friendly way gets far more and better results than the ruthless alpha-dog way of leadership.
(1) We Stay In Control: Apha-dog leaders seek to control others but they misconstrue what control really means. In truth, such leaders are really out of control much of the time, since they’re at the mercy of their emotional outbursts and the reactions of others to those outbursts. In leadership, the best way to control a situation, i.e, the best way to get great results, is to put the people in control.
Don’t constrain them through short-term compulsion but liberate them by playing the “longer game.” Unleash their initiative and creativity by allowing them to make free choices, and they will be under YOUR “control” in more profound and effective ways than the alpha-dog leader could ever imagine.
(2) People Respond More Openly And Positively To Friendliness: Humans seek happiness and being friendly is a great way to spread happiness. It enables you to communicate much more effectively because it bonds you with others in ways that anger, coercion and intimidation can’t. It’s that bonding that is the stuff that great results flow from.
(3) We Are Modelling Good Interactions: Whether leaders know it or not, their words and actions are carefully watched by the people they lead. People have an instinctive need to model those words and actions or if they disagree with them, speak and act in opposite ways. By radiating friendliness, leaders are being the means that are the ends in the making.
(4) We Make Real Issues Relevant Factors: Friendliness tends to clarify issues whereas intimidation is associated with fear. So often intimidating leaders make themselves and their tormenting ways the issue. Whereas the real issues should be, how do we get results, how do we get more results, how do we get faster results and how do we get “more, faster” continually? The fear they provoke is like crack cocaine, temporarily stimulating but addictive and in the long run destructive to the leader and the people.
(5) When We Are Friendly We Set The Agenda: “A good offence is the best defence” applies with friendliness. You should be on the offence with friendliness, displaying it even in challenging circumstances when it may take an act of disciplined courage on your part. This helps you set the agenda in terms of how people respond to one another in these circumstances.
Of course, your friendliness will not affect some people who may be determined to subvert your leadership no matter what your attitude is, however, friendliness can, keep rancor from spreading deeply into the organization.
(6) We Increase The Chance That Others Will Support Our Cause: The truth is that leaders can’t motivate anybody to do anything. The people themselves make the choice to be motivated or not. Friendly leaders however have the best chance of creating an environment in which the people make that choice.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one.”
(7) Our Opponents Can Be Thrown Off Balance: As a leader, you’ll often have people working against you, spoiling for a fight and when they encounter a friendly attitude on your part, they may be thrown off balance in benignly effective ways. Furthermore, your friendliness can encourage others to take up your cause against them and provide better results.
(8) Getting Results Through Friendliness Can Take A Lot Less Energy: Friendliness isn’t an absolute necessity in leadership. I’ve seen great leaders who were terrifying task masters. It’s just that unfriendly people have to go through a lot more trouble keeping people motivated and interested in whatever they are doing.
Two caveats to take note of however. One, friendliness can be mistaken for weakness. In fact, friendliness can BE weakness if it manifests as a way of avoiding challenging people to do the hard things to get great results. In leadership, friendliness has a clear function which is to help people achieve constantly improving results.
This entails you challenging people to do what they often don’t want to do. Anybody can be nice to them and let them do what they want but a leader must continually be challenging people to struggle mightily for extraordinary results. If friendliness doesn’t help you fulfill that function then it’s simply a lifestyle choice, not a leadership tool and ultimately in terms of leadership, a weakness.
Two, even if you do use it as a strong leadership tool, you certainly can’t be friendly 100 percent of the time. If you try to be, you’ll find yourself becoming a rather one-dimensional leader. One of the most difficult accomplishments facing any leader is simply being who you really are – especially under pressure.
To force-fit friendliness in a situation where you might not ordinarily exhibit it or to use friendliness to manipulate people into conforming to your wishes is not the best leadership uses of friendliness.
It may be a dog-eat-dog world but by progressing in the way of friendliness, leaders can invest their lives and this world with moments of beauty and meaning — and get more results in the bargain