Guest post by Susan Finerty (learn more about Susan at the end of this post)
I wasn’t Homecoming Queen–I was on the court. I still have dreams of winning. There I am, in my dusty rose-colored gown, flower bouquet in hand, tiara on head.
But then I wake up and remember that I am a 40-something mom and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and nobody is going to put a tiara on my head anytime soon (unless it is one of my daughters and we are having a princess tea party).
All other childhood aspirations have gone by the wayside–marrying Shaun Cassidy, winning Wimbledon, living on a horse ranch. Why does this one refuse to fade?
The answer is obvious. Despite maturity, confidence, and by all external accounts, success, I still really, really want to be liked. And I am not alone. Some of the strongest most powerful women I know–when pushed–will tell me that there is still that little inner Miss Congeniality inside them.
A perspective jolt is needed. We may never lose the need to be liked, but must realize that the criteria for being liked has changed since sophomore year in high school. Being liked doesn’t mean the one with the best hair, clothes, cutest boyfriend, biggest perma-grin.
In fact, the clients that like and respect me the most are the ones I have been toughest on. I once stood on a chair yelling at a team (a senior team, several titles above me) telling them to stop acting like spoiled, petulant children. They still talk about it to this day–it was a tipping point for them. Last week I told a client that he was probably ‘well placed’ and not likely to get a promotion. He thanked me and asked me when we could talk again.
Its OK to want to be liked–it might even help in some cases. My need to be liked helps me deliver tough messages in a way that allows people to open up and listen. But I still need to remind myself that being liked is not my goal—it is a secondary outcome and sugary sweet is not the way to get there.
About the author
Susan Finerty is a consultant, blogger and aspiring writer. Visit her blog: www.LeadershipMutt.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.