One of my favorite clients got a promotion years ago. For the first time, this highly capable technical expert went from being an individual contributor to a leader.
It’s always tricky to lead your former peers. Especially when they’re smart and you’re nice. Before long, she started to feel stuck between what the company needed her to do as a leader and what her former peers wanted her to do.
Then it occurred to her that she had subconsciously been asking herself the question, “Who do I need to please?” She was getting hung up on pleasing her former peers because deep down she was believing, “I am my approval ratings.” And that belief was making it almost impossible to fulfill her leadership responsibility effectively.
This is a losing game because we all know approval is fickle. One day you’re the bomb and the next, you’re toast. Worse yet, the fear of disapproval paralyzes us from being our best selves.
You can do better than chase approval. You can remember that you’re about something much more stable and significant than the polls. You’re about making a contribution. We’re cheering you on as you do.