Usually 50% At Best

Trust. Distrust.

Like.  Dislike.

Do you trust your leader?  Do you like your leader?

Take President Barack Obama, or any President for that matter.  Usually, at best, a President receives between 50-60% of the popular vote.  More or less half. Stay with me here.

What this means is the other half don’t like and don’t trust the President, relatively speaking.

And it’s the same in large organizations and small businesses. Seriously, it is.

Why do we try so hard to be liked, when in reality, the best we can ever hope for is about half.

Take Simon Cowell, from American Idol (yes, many of you hate Simon and the show), while many people do not like him, everyone trusts that he will tell the truth.

And the reason we know Simon will always tell the truth, is because he always does. Sounds simple, but Simon is consistent to a fault. He’s honest even if it’s “bad news”.

And yet, he’s crystal clear about his mission – select the very best singer. Period. Determine the “Gold Medal” winner. Select the next American Idol.

Most don’t like him. Most absolutely trust him.

If trust is the most important leadership characteristic, who gives a flip about being liked?

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Dear Jeff,

    A lot has to be said for people being liked versus people being trusted. We would like both, but look at the military. You are taught to trust your commanders with your life that they would lead you correctly. You aren’t taught to like them. As a matter of fact, some are even taught to fear them, a la Machiavelli’s “It is better to be feared than to be loved” notion found in “The Prince.”

    But I am reminded of quote from John Gardner as it pertains to your comments above: “Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers.”


  2. Bob, wow. Your insights here really add depth and validity to the crazy notion that most leaders fail to manage – because of fear or ignorance, or both – the truth about leadership.

    It ain’t a popularity contest.

    Thanks again for your contribution.

Comments are closed.