Do you want to be liked or do you want to be a good manager?

Feb 13 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

We'd all prefer to be liked, but managers who spend too much time trying to be popular and friendly with members of their teams can be a recipe for disaster.

Managers who place too much emphasis on their relationship with team risk ending up damaging productivity and performance, research by management consultancy Hay Group has suggested.

The study of 20 executive leadership teams at Fortune 500 companies analysed the values held by team leaders and members and their impact on team performance.

It found that teams whose members were interdependent and worked towards a common purpose tend to perform more effectively.

In contrast, teams that were little more than a collection of individuals delivered weaker performance, no matter how talented or experienced the team members.

Top performing executive teams were more likely to place a high value on people and team relationships.

Yet, crucially, leaders who displayed high levels of affiliation were far less likely to create highly effective teams, Hay concluded.

Overly affiliative executives failed to avoid favouritism and were less likely to make unpopular decisions, it argued.

They were also less likely to exclude people from teams that were already at optimum size or prevent behaviour that was not necessarily conducive to completing tasks or delivering results.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, Chris Watkin, associate director at Hay Group, said: "The message to senior business leaders is: don't overdo the love.

"Our research demonstrates that too much concern with relationships and popularity damages team productivity," he added.

Too much affiliation at the top reduced team effectiveness, he stressed. "Leaders become overly concerned with maintaining popularity and good relationships and fail to address underperformance and make tough decisions," he added.

"To maximise team performance, leaders must ask themselves: do my relationships support or detract from the direction of the team?" he concluded.