As leaders we want to be liked. We want people to follow us and have fun doing it. But one of the perils of leadership is to be so emotionally needy of the adulation of our followers that we compromise our identity.
We have people on our teams who will praise us excessively to the point of flattery. It makes us feel good to be liked. But in the secret places of our heart, we know that we are not that good.
We suspect that the praiser wants something from us and just telling us those nice things because they are going to want a favor down the road. They are “greasing the skids.”
As a leader, I’ve found that the people who are quickest to praise me without really knowing me are the first ones to turn on me when times get tough. They are the first ones to blame and criticize.
To stay centered as leaders we need people in our life who love us without strings attached to what they can get from us. Those people are rare. It gets even more confusing when we think we have those people in our life only to find out that they had a secret agenda all along.
This is the essence of the excellent and critically acclaimed Netflix series, House of Cards. Things are not always what they seem and the Frank Underwoods of the world will stab us in the back while praising us to our face.
Flattery from those we lead may feel good, but if we treat it as more than it really is, it will get us nowhere.