How To Manage: Being Liked vs. Being Respected


Today I have a question about how to be a better manager. This question and the discussion came from one of my 7×7 Mentoring Salons. It is interesting to see the different perspectives between corporations vs. startups and the blurring of personal vs. professional lines. Here are 7 women’s perspectives. What is yours?


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What advice do you have as managers in terms of being in charge? I try to always make myself level with the person that is reporting to me just because it feels so weird to be a manager. What tips—or suggestions for leadership development tools or classes—can I take to feel better about being a leader?


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You have to remember, those people work for you. A coach can help with that.  – 50-something, advisor, investor


We all have this instinct to want to be liked. It’s not about being liked it’s about being respected. You don’t have to be rude but you have to generate respect. I remember when that concept kicked in for me. It was such a liberating experience because you work with people better. It’s equal opportunity.  The conversations are about, “This is what I need to get done. This is how I think you should go about doing it. If you have a better way, let’s discuss it.” It’s not about, “Can we talk?” There’s no emotional subtext. You don’t have to couch everything. – 40-something, financial advisor


It’s a relationship in that it’s two-way. It’s learning about what motivates that person, listening and being respectful of them as well. But it’s not the same as a personal friendship. The thing that resonates for me is that relationships, at work or not, are about setting expectations and people knowing the expectations. Disappointment and tension build when expectations aren’t met. So deciding the culture of your company is, defining what your expectations are, communicating the expectations, and then living by those expectations can go a long way in building a culture. It doesn’t mean you can’t develop a relationship later. I am now best friends with some of my old bosses but there was always a line when we worked together. – 40-something, marketing director


In hindsight, I wouldn’t get so emotionally involved in my employees’ lives.  It’s okay to be understanding. But at the end of the day you have to say, “I’m really sorry about what is going on in your life. You can have the time off. Let’s get somebody else to do what needs to be done.” Sometimes it’s very easy to get sucked into trying to fix everything. But it takes up valuable time and energy you need to run your company.” – former tech CEO


I was a trader for nine years and often the only woman on the floor. There were times guys screamed, “What are you doing? That’s so stupid!” But you can’t take it personally. You just have  to move on. I know this sounds bad but when we started to get more women it was different. You heard a lot of analyzing and decoding. “She said this to me. He gave me a dirty look in the kitchen. What do you think it meant?” It made me appreciate how no nonsense it was dealing with the guys. When my head trader would tell me something, it was not because he didn’t like me personally or that he must not like me as a woman. He wanted me to do my job better.

I have people that work for me now and that is my approach. I’m here to guide you, to direct you, to help you do your job better. And in order for me to do that, there are certain things that I’m going to need you to do. I’m not here to be your friend. Of course, we can go out for a glass of wine after work or something. But my job is to help you do your job.” – 40-something, investor relationships at a hedge fund.


It goes back to fostering team culture. Since we’re such a small team, team culture is really important. I can see at a larger corporation, you can have that barrier. But at such a small startup, it’s just artificial. My team members are people who I would normally be friends with outside of work. They’re my age. So it’s kind of weird to suddenly have this artificial barrier. I try to balance empathy with delegating. I encourage everyone to be friends outside of work as well.  – 20-something startup co-founder


 To some degree, they’ve joined the startup as a lifestyle choice. I think it’s about leading by example and setting boundaries because you are going to spend a lot of time with these people. You go out for drinks and you talk about what people talk about. When we are here from 9 to 12 working and in meetings we are talking about work. When you go out for drinks you talk about what people talk about. When you step out for coffee you can talk about work or relationships or whatever but just setting those expectations and leading by example. – 30-something, startup founder

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