Leadership Challenges as a People Pleaser

Leadership Challenges as a People Pleaser by Sam Dhu

Ever find yourself saying yes to avoid conflict, even as a leader?

Perhaps you are the person who always organises the cake for birthdays in the office even when you don’t really have the time, or the person who works late instead of asking for help from your team.

Being an empathetic and caring leader is so important and something to be celebrated AND we need to balance that with also taking care of ourselves and our boundaries.

Let’s explore why people-pleasing can be a challenge in leadership and how to navigate it.

What Does People-Pleasing Look Like in Leadership?

People-pleasers consistently strive to please others, often sacrificing their own wants or needs in the process. They will often avoid conflict and may have trouble communicating assertively due to their fears around disappointing others.

If you are always saying yes, avoiding tough conversations, and prioritising others’ comfort over your own needs you may be someone who is struggling with people-pleasing.

Key Challenges Faced by People-Pleasers in Leadership

1. Decision-Making Issues:

“Struggle to make firm decisions? You’re not alone. People-pleasers often worry about upsetting others and also have a tendency to be aware of others feelings.”

2. Burnout:

“Saying yes too often leads to stress and burnout.”

3. Team Dynamics:

“Avoiding conflict can lead to unclear expectations and lack of accountability.” This can actually cause the team to feel less safe.

Simple Strategies to Overcome People-Pleasing

1. Self-Awareness:

“Recognising patterns of people pleasing in yourself and in others is an important first step.

2. Practice Assertive Communication & Set Boundaries:

In the words of Brene Brown “Clear is kind.” Learning to say no even when it feels hard is key here. It’s okay to prioritise your own well-being and remind yourself that setting boundaries and communicating assertively is actually supportive in making your team feel safe.

3. Seek Support:

If you recognise that you have a pattern of people pleasing you may need to explore what is underneath this pattern, people pleasing often stems from our early experiences.

The reasons underlying people pleasing can be complex and at times exploring them can leave us feeling vulnerable, you may want to engage the services of a coach with a background in therapy who can offer a blend of psychotherapy and coaching known as clinical coaching.

Benefits of Addressing People-Pleasing

1. Better Decisions:

You’ll make decisions that are better for the team and the organisation.

2. Healthier Teams:

Clear expectations and accountability lead to more psychological safety within your team and better performance.

3. Personal Well-Being:

“Less stress and more balance in your life.”

In many ways being aware of your team’s well-being and being empathetic as a leader serves you well but this needs to be balanced with also being aware of your own needs and well-being. Addressing any patterns of people pleasing will support you in continuing to lead with empathy AND take care of yourself. Reach out to book a free 30-minute call to find out more about how Sam can support you as a leader who wants to reduce people pleasing.

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