Why Leaders Don’t Worry About Popularity

by Wayne Sharer

International speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Retired navy officer, former commanding officer. Over 35 years of leading, coaching, mentoring, and speaking.

September 27, 2018

I’ve never been popular in the sense of being the kid in school or college that everyone wanted to know. Shyness and severe anxieties always inhibited me. If you ever wanted living proof of why leaders don’t worry about popularity, just look at me.

Many spend most of the lives trying to win popularity. Where does that get them? Often it means you temporarily gain the favorable attention of many. But then what? Did you advance and become a better leader?

Modern politics supplies a grand showing of popularity contests played out in the media and in public. These political types often claim to be leaders but really seek popularity. In fact, folks running for positions in Congress run to become your representative, not your leader. However, I digressed.

Early in my leadership career, I believed the importance of popularity was more than it was. The reason was I saw it like a high school or college kid. I saw popularity all wrong.

As I began succeeding, I began realizing popularity wasn’t at all what I thought it was. Popularity as a leader was not about being everyone’s buddy or best pal. It wasn’t about being the person who got the most dates or was invited to the most parties.

Popularity as a leader is about providing clear missions, clear pathways ahead, and clear objectives. It is about supplying all of this and more and never losing sight of the needs of your people – the people on your team or in your organization you lead.

I realized that if I could remember names, and help people achieve their goals while achieving the team’s goal, I would be popular as a leader. I may not be the guy they want coming to all their parties, but I was the person they wanted leading them. They knew I was the person to get things done extremely well while never losing sight of their needs and desires.

Popularity as a leader does not come by seeking popularity. It comes to you by doing your best to both help your team or organization while also doing your best to help the people comprising it.

By spending time in the world of your team or company members, you find what is important to them. By listening to them, you can include in the company objectives and goals ways to include the team’s needs and desires.

When your position as a leader has you more interested in helping the organization/company or team and helping the individuals than helping yourself, you will achieve popularity as a leader. Thus, this is why leaders never have to worry about popularity.


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