As a leader, you will face more scrutiny than most. Sometimes to your face, other times in peoples thoughts only. This is part of the spotlight we choose when we choose to lead, it's one of the risks we ante for reward.
A common problem (especially in larger organizations) is the disconnection between the do'ers and their leadership team. This is a condition which quickly devolves into an Us vs. Them mentality, where people managers often claim the moral high-ground. The do'ers are seen as ungrateful complainants that need to be supervised and the management team are seen as out of touch with the business. While there will inevitably be talk among the leadership team about this problem, there is rarely any ownership of responsibility for how things came to be this way and what to do to make things better for everyone.
This brings me to the title of this article. Working with people who have fallen victim to this type of "leadership", you may find yourself being accused of "leading a popularity contest". While I always have a keen eye on business performance and excellence, I will give you a few examples of when I've seen this. I try to understand the personal aspect of everyone on my team. I have taken employees out for lunch, will allow people the freedom to work from home as needed and show as much lenience as I can. I have (and continue to support) the idea of taking time at work to play (Playing Foosball/Ping-pong/Boardgames, etc.). As a leader of people, my job is to represent our employees in the grand scheme of our organization. They are my customers, and their contentment at work is paramount to our success.
Being popular means your are doing something right. It means you are resonating with people. It will help you influence and navigate through change & adversity more successfully than any other way, because you will have built a track record of being vested in more than just the organizations interests.
So what do you do if you are in this situation? Well the key is not to just be popular with your team. Take this attitude with you everywhere you go. Help your colleagues every chance you get. Listen to, and support them during tough times & praise them for a job well done (even if you aren't their boss, everyone loves hearing praise) offer to help them offload some workload if you have bandwidth for it. Also be this way with your management team. Offer them valuable feedback and insight into the business that they might not see firsthand. Offer your support and help at any chance you get. Tell them (or their boss) when you appreciate them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts & comments below!