Momentum Podcast: 783
The Danger of Wanting Your Team to Like You
by Alex Charfen
This is one of the most challenging topics for me to cover.
Early in my career, I told a consultant that one of the things I wanted most in my business was that I wanted my team to like and and to be close to my team members. He told me I was looking for validation from my team, and it is a dangerous place to be as a entrepreneur.
If your focus is on how much your team likes you rather than on the impact your team is helping your create, you are seeking validation from the wrong place. Instead, the numbers and metrics from your business will validate the contribution you are making.
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Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast. This is a tough topic to cover for entrepreneurs, because so many of us, including me, have made the mistake of looking for validation from our team rather than from what our team can help us do. As you know, I'm Alex Charfen. I help entrepreneurs around the world grow and scale their businesses without feeling like they have to do it all themselves so that visionary entrepreneurs can go out and make the impact they want to make in the world and this. Topic that I want to share with you today is one this actually kind of tough for me to talk about. You know, when I was younger, I ran a pretty large team in my 20s, I started a consultancy called Sales Out and worked out of the state of Florida. We went to some of the biggest companies in the world, like we were to Microsoft Fuji Memorex Belgian tech with companies like Wal-Mart, RadioShack, Tiger Direct Brands Mart USA, some companies that are roaming around anymore. But those Alex are big enough to do it, and they're still here now. And I ended up with a team of about 50 people. We had about 12 offices in the U.S. and Latin America, 14 offices that our biggest in the US and Latin America. And I remember the day that I told one of the consultants that I worked with one of the people who was helping me that, you know, one of the things that was things that was really important to me was that my team liked me and that, you know, I had a good relationship with my team. And I remember he kind of sat back and didn't really say anything, took a few deep breaths. And then he said, Alex, you're looking for validation from your team and it's a dangerous place to be as an entrepreneur. I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will? We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be. This member who was brought up for me because I was recently in a mastermind and I, you know, this was one of these things where I was a mastermind, we're all helping an entrepreneur and giving them some advice. And he said, Well, you know, it's really important to me that my team likes me. And it took me right back to that day in my 20s, probably 25 years ago when I said that in front of this friend of mine, that was a consultant and was giving me some help. And when I asked him, What do you mean? I'm asking or I'm looking for my team to validate me? What does that even mean? And he said, Well, the fact that you even said you really want your team to like you means that your focus is on how your team feels about you rather than what they're helping you do. And I wrote some notes down here, he said, You know, the validation should actually come from your numbers that your team helps you achieve, not from the fact that they like you were just like you. And here's why. And and I was like, So wait, you want me to have a team that doesn't like me? He said, No, your focus is in the wrong place. You if you have a team who respects you, if you have a team who sees you as a good leader, if you have a team who sees you as someone who has helped them advance their career and advance their income and learn and be able to move things forward, they will like you. But right now you're so concerned with them, either liking you or not liking you that you're treating them in a way that's incongruent and inconsistent. And I was like, incredulous, like, what do you mean? Whoa. Whoa, whoa, incongruent. Inconsistent. How am I doing that? And he said, Well, when your team members have a bad month, when somebody on your team has a bad month, I've observed you don't really let them know that they're having a bad month. You actually try and make them feel better about what they're doing. You're not congruent and transparent and radically candid with them and say, Hey, you had a bad month. What's going on? What is the issue here? How do I got you out of this? How do I help you? Instead, you do these affirmations and positive vision positive thoughts with them and like trying to make them feel better about themselves, thinking that if they feel better about themselves because they have your validation that they will feel better. And the reality is, you're looking for validation from them, you're looking for them to have positive thoughts towards you. You're not looking for them in what you're not focused on is helping them perform. And you know, when I when I heard it for the first time, it didn't really sink in. I had a hard time understanding this lesson. I got caught up and stuck on wait a second. How do I work with a team where people don't like me? What I didn't realize was what I know today. You know, today I work with a team of people, many of whom have told me they've learned more working in the company that I run, and some have even said they've learned more. Watching me as a leader of working with me as a leader. And the way that I've treated them and being candid with them in their lives and anybody they've ever been around. And I know I have a massive amount of respect on my team because other people tell me about team members talking to them about what they've learned from me and what they picked up in our company. And I have an incredible working relationship with the people that I work with. But here's the difference from me today and me and my 20s in my 20s, I was concerned whether they liked me or not. Today, I'm concerned, whether I'm actually helping them or not, whether I'm moving them forward or not. Am I giving them the appropriate coaching? Am I telling them the things they really need to hear? In my twenties, I'll bring up a recent example, and I'm not going to share the name of the person on my team, but he's an incredible team member and somebody that I absolutely love working with and I love being around. He's just such an incredibly solid guy and, you know, he has just had this happen. I've talked to him about it recently of using words like Amazing, excellent, fantastic as a transition. And so somebody in our company would say anything and you would say amazing, somebody else. Amazing and, you know, fantastic, excellent. And so this week, you know, in my 20s, I never would have had this conversation. I would have just said, Oh, it's one of his little quirks. That's no big deal. But I realized here's what started happened to me when I was listening to him, I realized that he was saying amazing and fantastic and excellent so often that there was no contrast if he ever has ever said, Wow, that's amazing. Everybody would say, Well, he says, everything is amazing. He's just positive about everything. And I think this individual on my team has true leadership capacity. He's shown true leadership capacity. I want him to grow into being a transformational leader that can change people's lives. I think he has everything that it takes to do that. But if he keeps using amazing and fantastic and excellent and all these positive words for a transition to anything regardless of how amazing, fantastic or excellent it really is, he's just going to be seen as somebody who just sounds positive all the time, and he's going to be seen as somebody who maybe is a little bit of a yes man. Like, everything's great, everything's amazing. And in leadership, something that's incredibly important is contrast. Contrast is crucially important. So when something is absolutely amazing and you tell your team, Hey, this is a huge accomplishment, this is amazing. You want them to hear you. And if you're saying it all the time, they won't. And so I had a call with him where I said that. I said, You know, you have this habit of using these words as a transition. And I know you have leadership capacity. And my concern is that if you can take. You to do that, people aren't going to ever hear you when something's actually important and something really is amazing and something really does stand out. It's going to blend in with the fact that you use these words all the time. And I had this conversation with them. It was it was, you know, honestly, every time I had to have a candid, radically candid conversation with somebody like that, it causes me to pause and be careful that I don't come across as aggressive or have the wrong intention heard, or that I'm not heard because of the way that I'm saying something. But also, I really care about the individual that I'm communicating with, and so I shared this with him. And it was heard it was respected. He immediately I noticed he started changing behavior and wasn't doing that anymore. And you know, I told him, you should just use transaction positions like, thank you. I appreciate you sharing that. Or, you know, OK, let's move on to what's next. And then people won't constantly hear this from you, and I saw him do it almost immediately. And having that type of a candid conversation in my 20s just criticizing it, I would have seen it as critical. I would have seen it as, you know, nit picking. I would have seen it as trying to tell somebody what their language should be like. Like, who am I to do all these things? Well, now? Forty nine years old, having led hundreds of people in the businesses that I've owned. If you had account contractors and extended teams and thousands of people having interviewed thousands of people having worked with leaders who are incredibly effective and unfortunately having worked with leaders who are incredibly ineffective, I know now that this is one of those things that I have to point out to him that I have to share with him. And so having this candid conversation in my 20s, I would have been afraid he would stop liking me actually makes me kind of laugh now because in now at forty nine about to turn 50 towards the end of this year, I know that by having this conversation with him, one I've earned his respect because this is an individual who actually wants to be in leadership who's affirmatively stated, Hey, I want to lead people. I want to grow into a bigger leadership position. I want to be able to take on more. I want to be able to do more. And so I've earned his respect. I also know that he now knows that I really care about him, that I'm willing to have what is a somewhat uncomfortable conversation, but to be able to coach him and give him the information that he needs to hear about himself. So he stops with this communication liability. And here's what I know that when I have radically candid conversations with people like I did and where I'm centered and grounded, and I approach it from a place of neutrality, not from a place of aggression, and I'm from a place of having to get angry in order to share it. Yes, another thing I see when I was younger, when I tried to contract somebody in order to have the guts to do it, I had to like, get my anger up and share it from a place of anger and share, from a place of being hypercritical and being being mean. And and now I look back and I think like all I really had to do was just be neutral and candid and share the information. And by letting go of the need for people to like me and by focusing instead on coaching and making sure someone's moving in the right direction and seeing opportunities to share with people where they can improve and sharing those things in a neutral and congruent way, where they can ask questions, where they feel like they're not invalidated, but they actually are even more validated because they're getting my attention and energy. I now know that's how I build true lifelong relationships with the people who work with me. And when I look at those first 10 years of my career, yeah, there's a couple of people who keep in touch. When I look at the last 10 years of my career, there's dozens of people who let me know how they're doing, who reach out for advice, who who reach out out of the blue and thanking me for something that I said to them or who have an accomplishment in their lives and feel the need to come and share it with me. And I love those interactions. And it proves to me that when I focused on wanting people to like me, when I focus on my team validating me, what I really did was invalidate them. But now that I have more experience and more understanding when I focus on giving my team valid input, when I focus on them being able to move forward, when I focus on the numbers and the outcomes that we have validating me and then turning around and validating them by helping them and being radically candid, that's how I build true, life-changing relationships for them, by changing relationships for me and relationships that really help our business move forward. So if you're new at leading people, if you knew at managing people and you have that side, I really want my team to like me. I want you to see if you can shift that from I want my team to like me too. I want my, you know, and I want you to realize that that fight is. I want my team to validate me. I want you to find validation in your numbers, validation in your success. Validation in how you lead it, because you're radically candid with people and I want you to share from I want my team to like me too. I want to help my team grow. I want to help my team. Stephanie, their positions in a better way. I want to share with my team everywhere where I feel that there's room for improvement in a place of neutrality and a place of congruence so that they can hear it and. Those improvements and you will see your entire company shift, but here's what's more important, Yoshi, see your relationship with the people we work with become richer and more effective and even more dynamic. If you are, if you're ready to start growing your business and surround yourself with a team of true believers are going to absolutely, absolutely change the world. We'd love to help you. And if what I shared today was something that you related to, I'd love for you to check out the business that I'm the CEO of Simple Operations dot com. If you've been listening to me for a while, you might not have heard about this yet, but we rebranded our entire company to simple operations, simple operations, dot com. Sign up for a call with my team and let us show you how we help entrepreneurs around the world predictably grow their business through proven structure, process and routine, and their simple operations system that will change your business and may even change your life. If you ask our members changes your business first and your life first or sorry, it changes your business first and then your life. And he changes everything because when you can simplify the operations of your business and everything in your life gets easier, you start actually getting what you want and having the impact that you have always known you should have. Go to Simple Operations dot com and sign up for a call with us and remember, let your numbers validate you. Your team doesn't need to. And the more honest and candid you are with the people around you, the more you will be seen as a leader, and the more you will help them become leaders and help you go out and make the change in the world that you've always wanted to. Thanks for being with me today.