People Pleaser or People Challenger … Which Type of Leader are You?

Apr 30, 2020

Making people happy sounds like a good thing, and it is. But sometimes what makes someone happy isn’t really the best thing for them.

Imagine a parent whose only goal is to please their child … Cookies for breakfast? Sure! Watching TV or playing video games all day? No problem. Skipping math homework because it’s hard? That’s okay, too.

 Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

It’s not that different from a leader who would rather be “liked” than have the hard conversations that are sometimes necessary. Or who would rather make their team happy by letting them take the “easy” path instead of challenging them to always be improving … both themselves and the studio.

Isn’t the leader who is more concerned about pleasing their team rather than challenging them really doing the team a disservice?

A leader who is a people challenger, on the other hand, evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each person on the team and then creates an action plan to utilize strengths. This leader challenges each team member to build on their strengths to move everyone forward.

The goal of the people challenger isn’t to be DISliked … of course, you still want to be liked. But you recognize that challenging your team to meet their full potential is more important.

The difference between being a people pleaser and a people challenger shows up in how you interact with the people you lead. For example …

 People Pleaser:

  • Doesn’t address bad habits like tardiness.
  • Avoids “stepping on toes.”
  • Accepts below-standard performance.
  • Accepts — or makes — excuses.
  • Settles for “good enough.”

 People Challenger:

  • Suggests solutions to change bad habits.
  • Offers constructive criticism.
  • Expects everyone’s best effort towards constant improvement.
  • Takes ownership of their behavior and expects the same of others.
  • Inspires excellence.

The good news is that you get to choose which type of leader you are … or which type of leader you will become. It’s all up to you.

And it all starts with you.


Here’s your ONE THING for this week: Reflect on whether you, as a leader, currently are a people pleaser or a people challenger.

Be honest with yourself. It’s okay if you don’t like your answer. Because the first step in change is to recognize that there is something that needs changing.


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