Embracing Authentic Leadership: From People Pleaser to Respected Leader

In recent weeks, I've experienced a profound transformation that I believe will change the course of my life forever. ...

In recent weeks, I've experienced a profound transformation that I believe will change the course of my life forever. It's been a journey of self-discovery, marked by a series of events that pushed me to confront my inner demons and reevaluate my approach to leadership and life. Through this process, I've gained invaluable clarity, and I'd like to share my insights with you.

The past month has brought me face to face with significant challenges that impacted my emotional well-being and my ability to lead with strength and purpose. Looking back, I'm amazed at how I allowed these challenges to get the best of me, but I also recognize that none of us are perfect. It's in our moments of vulnerability that we have the opportunity to grow and evolve.

One of the key issues that surfaced during this time was vocational confusion and purpose misalignment. I found myself questioning what was truly affecting me, what deep-seated traumas were resurfacing, and what was triggering these emotions. It was also a period during which I observed inspiring leadership within and outside my company, receiving undeserved grace and feeling the unwavering support of my family. It begged the question: What had changed within me?

The epiphany arrived on a Monday evening as I sat with a colleague. It was as if lightning had struck, illuminating the path forward. I had to confront my incessant need to be liked, a trait that had repeatedly hindered me as a leader. It was a moment of reckoning, and I knew I had to change.

I asked myself a series of critical questions:

  • Am I the right person for this role? Yes.
  • Am I qualified? Yes.
  • Am I talented? Yes.
  • Will I drive results? Yes.
  • Do I inspire people? Yes.
  • Do I genuinely love and care for others? Yes.
  • Have I had a successful career so far? Yes.

Then what was the problem? The problem was me.

The solution, as it turns out, was a shift in focus. I had to trade my desire to be liked for a pursuit of respect. While these two might seem similar, they are profoundly different in their implications.

I began to reflect on the lives of well-respected innovators and leaders, and it became clear that not everyone liked them. They were respected for their unwavering commitment to their principles and their ability to speak the truth, even when it was unpopular. The ultimate example that came to mind was none other than Jesus Christ—respected by many but not universally liked because he didn't prioritize pleasing people over speaking the truth.

So, why had it taken me so long to realize that my obsession with being liked was holding me back and causing me unnecessary suffering?

Let's explore the downsides of needing to be liked:

  1. Living on an emotional roller coaster: Constantly seeking approval can lead to emotional instability.

  2. Believing lies and misinterpreting people's intentions: The need to be liked can make us overly sensitive to perceived slights and misinterpretations.

  3. Exhausting over-exertion: Trying to make everyone happy can be physically and emotionally draining.

  4. Tying self-worth to others' opinions: Relying on external validation can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

  5. Feeling like a failure: The fear of not being liked can lead to a sense of failure when, in reality, it's a natural part of life.

Now, let's focus on the benefits of pursuing respect:

  1. Authenticity: Embracing authenticity and showing up as yourself in all situations leads to freedom.

  2. Healthy response to mistakes: Viewing mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than as failures can lead to personal and professional development.

  3. Respect for differences: Engaging in professional disagreements without the fear of losing others' approval allows for open and honest communication.

  4. Steadfastness: Staying true to your principles and values, even when they are unpopular, builds character and garners respect.

  5. Speaking your truth: Speaking from a place of authenticity, even in the face of potential disagreement or criticism, is a hallmark of a respected leader.

In my journey from being a people pleaser to striving for respect, I've found a newfound sense of purpose and a deeper connection to my true self. I'm committed to my path as a leader, and I hope my story can inspire others to shed the need for constant validation and focus on being authentic and respected in their own right. After all, it's not about being liked by everyone; it's about standing firmly in your truth and becoming a leader worth respecting.