The Curse of the People Pleaser

put em upOf all the things one could do too much of, pleasing people isn’t so bad right? After all, it’s caring and considerate to put the wishes of others first.

Actually, the opposite can also be true. Let me explain.

Positive Change Is Not Usually Pleasant

Growth in a positive direction often requires discomfort and pain. Healthy people do not enjoy discomfort and pain. If as a leader, you struggle with the need to please, you have to look past the immediate reactions of those you upset. The same thing that upsets someone could be what makes them better. The decision to please someone could be depriving them of the growth they desperately need.

“Keeping everyone happy” is not only unreasonable, it’s impossible. The very effort to keep someone happy will likely upset someone else. In his book, Never Go Back, Dr. Henry Cloud writes, “The only way to avoid upsetting anyone is to believe, say, or do nothing at all.” The bottom line is, positive action will certainly upset someone. A leader needs to make decisions based on what is right, not on what makes people happy.


Most People Do Not Like Change

Some folks are more comfortable with change than others. Referencing the DISC personality profile, it is estimated that 67% of the United States population is identified as the S personality. S’s are great team players, loyal and helpful. They are people oriented, agreeable and generally well-balanced. Beneath all these wonderful traits, lies their Kryptonite. The need for security. This same need is what leads them to avoid change whenever possible. 67% of Americans don’t like change! As leaders, we need to recognize how our decisions, even if they lead to positive growth, can be threatening to many of our employees. It must be over communicated that you are with them and that the change you are making will make things better. When a leader aims to please rather than do what’s best for everyone, he or she is stifling the growth of the organization.

What’s Beneath the Need to Please?

People pleasing leaders have an internal battle on their hands. Their approachable, people oriented, relational characteristics are often the very traits which led to them to the place they are today. Why stop? After all, it’s the reason they are well liked and it’s the reason for the security they now enjoy. At some point in their lives, they decided being well-liked was a priority. Perhaps in the past, their security was threatened by not being accepted by a group or by not gaining someones approval. The need to please can be an incredibly strong motivator. How else can you explain someone staying in an abusive relationship? Keeping people happy may work for a while but what happens when someone gets upset? People pleasing leaders find themselves in a never-ending struggle, where the emotions of others govern the decisions that are made. Not good.stressed-646457__180

 The Takeaway:

If you are a leader who feels tempted to make decisions based on keeping people happy, ask yourself this question when you have a decision to make. “Am I doing this because someone is upset with me or because it’s the right thing to do?”


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “The Curse of the People Pleaser