After six years as a very productive and popular employee, management promoted Vinh to lead his department. Employees were very pleased because they liked him.
Several weeks after Vinh’s promotion, some external surprises shocked the company. A new competitor, with state-of-the art service, invaded Vinh’s territory. An unexpected governmental regulation choked some formerly, seamless processes. To cope, Vinh asked his team to adjust.
“Some of my former friends got mad at me,” Vinh recalled. “I explained to them why we had to change but they could not understand. My friends shunned me. The work environment seemed hostile. I dreaded my job.”
Apple founder, Steve Jobs, once said if you want to be a leader and win, you must give up the right to be liked. Winning leaders have to make tough decisions. Even though a team may eventually be better off because of a leader’s decision–no matter, someone will always be unhappy.
Normal people leading normal lives can seek both comfort and popularity. Leaders must give up both and strive to win. As Jobs said, “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader; sell ice cream.