Working for someone who is a people-pleaser may seem fairly innocuous or even desirable, but such leaders pose daunting challenges for their organizations. If you work for a people-pleaser, you most likely see the inherent problems and confess to seeking ways to maneuver around them.
People-pleasing leaders have some beneficial traits, but their behaviors can threaten survival in today’s highly competitive and responsive business climate: indecisiveness, lack of direction, inability to retain adequate personnel, low accountability, and overall inefficiency.
People-pleasers have an excessive compulsion to be liked and appear likable. This tendency impedes their ability to influence results. Leadership coaching can help them learn several helpful approaches to combating the problem.
Are You a People-Pleaser?
People-pleasers focus on others’ reactions and are highly interested in building positive relationships and managing impressions and interactions.
They want to be liked by as many people as possible to meet their psychological needs and achieve success, according to Dr. Beatrice Chestnut, author of The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace (Post Hill Press, 2017). People-pleasers endear themselves to others through three seemingly helpful communication tools: flattery, warmth and positivity.
People-pleasers’ need to be liked often seems dire and, as with most personality traits, is heavily influenced by childhood factors. Insecurities or fears manifest themselves in a variety of behaviors that are rarely acknowledged. When they please people around them, they feel a sense of well-being, Dr. Chestnut explains. This is both comforting and affirming, and pleasers hope it’s enough to bypass any potential rejection. By complimenting others, people-pleasers try to win over others by discerning what they want and giving it to them.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? You may have worked with others like this, or had a boss who was similar. Many of us act like this from time to time depending on the situation. In my coaching practice, I talk with people who strive to please others to the point where it impedes their effectiveness as a team member or leader.