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Love or Respect?

by Kevin Eikenberry on August 29, 2012

Chris Christie speechDuring last night’s Republican National Convention, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, gave the keynote address.  During his speech, he made a point worthy of our consideration as leaders.

Relatively early in the speech, Governor Christie said:

The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love. 

Now, of course, she was talking about women.

But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever.

I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved. 

And then after some more political comments he added,

Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say “yes,” rather than to say “no” when “no” is what’s required.

Whatever you think about political leaders, and whether you agree with the Governor politically, the point here for us as everyday, organizational leaders is worthy of our consideration.

Do you strive for love (or being liked), or respect?

Which of these drives most influences your decisions and actions?

Too many leaders strive to be liked by their teams – in fact, some really want to be friends with their team members.

While having strong relationships with our team members will nearly always afford us great advantages in communication, trust, and other factors, if we make our goal to “be friends,” we may not always make the best decisions.  If, instead, we work towards being consistent, trustworthy, and are willing to do (and decide) what is right, even if it is difficult, we will build relationships based on respect.

Both approaches will build relationships, a worthy goal.  But only one will build relationships while making the right decisions for your team and your organization.

Regardless of your political leanings or beliefs, choose the decisions and paths that lead towards respect, and you will become a more effective and influential leader.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shaleen Shah August 30, 2012 at 2:08 am

Can you have both? In a business scenario, it only makes sense to command respect so you feel like you are in control.. and yet, when people love your leadership, it motivates them to excel – and that is something only a few brands out there can achieve.

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Kevin Eikenberry August 31, 2012 at 6:26 am

Yes, I believe you can have both – but far better, and more effective for respect to come first.

Kevin :)

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Gene Crume December 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

In order to truly love someone you must respect them. There is no love without respect. There is respect without love especially in organizations and hierarchies. It seems we confuse “like” with “love”. I believe Governor Christie is actually referring to having people like you, and in that context I agree with him.

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