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Do I Have to Like Them?

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in Remarkable Leadership with Kevin Eikenberry

We all work with other people. And most of you reading this are leading other people too. This makes the question I’m often asked very relevant …

Yes, I have to work with them, but do I have to like them?

The short answer is, no.

We can have solid, effective and productive working relationships without people liking each other. Instead, what we need is clear communication, clear expectations and mutual respect. Liking is desirable, helpful and nice — but not required.

And this is really good news because it helps us get past stated (or unstated) concerns like:

“I really don’t like this person — so I don’t see how we can have a strong working relationship.”

“I don’t agree with their lifestyle/politics/beliefs, so I can’t really like that person.”

“They came from the competitor, so I can’t like them.”

“They are in accounting (or pick your least favorite department), so I can’t like them.”

“They went to a rival university, so I can’t like them.”

When you are thinking those things … stop. If you sense that concern from team members get them to stop.

Liking, while wonderful, isn’t the goal here.

The goal is strong working relationships, which are formed (I’ll say it again because it is critical) on clear expectations, clear and consistent communication, and mutual respect.

As it turns out, often the lovely byproduct of clear expectations, communication and respect is that people do find connections and begin to like each other. If that happens; awesome. If it doesn’t, as long as we have strong working relationships, we are still in good shape.

As a leader I would urge you to make nurturing strong working relationships with those you work with a top priority. And I would urge you to facilitate that within your organization and team as well.

Just remember that the goal isn’t a group hug — the goal is working relationships that allow for a successful work product. Liking is great, but don’t make it the goal.

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