Leaders, be prepared to be unpopular

What is the difference between a leader and a follower? The attitude towards personal popularity.

Here's the fact: Followers don't usually welcome change to their comfort zone. But leaders have a righteous discontent with the status quo and seek to achieve that which is yet to be understood by others - a sure recipe for unpopularity.

Any leader who is worth his salt must be prepared for unpopularity. And what are the benefits of being an unpopular leader?


Leaders see a vision which others do not. The reason is that most are focusing only on immediate gratification and are not willing to commit themselves to a greater cause.

There will be opposition to your goals. But, when you taste the fruits of your labour, you will have the final satisfaction.


Nothing sieves out your fair-weathered friends than a time of testing and hardship.

Are you constantly aiming to meet the goals of your employer or are you more concerned over what your colleagues might say? Do not sacrifice doing what is right for the sake of pleasing the crowd.


Character is more caught than taught. If you live your life by popular opinion, then there is no real value-add from you that will impact the lives of the next generation.

Practically speaking, your job as a leader is to keep the focus clear and avoid distractions at all costs. Your effectiveness as a leader is to ensure that your followers also understand and accept the clarity of that vision.

There is no such thing as an over-communication of vision. Here are three leadership actions to help you stay focused and single-minded:


Be attentive to what others are doing - employees need to see a correlation between their effort and the ensuing results. Even indirect tasks, like administration, need to be recognised and praised.


The seriousness of your vision is tested by your courage to reprimand those who don't contribute to the overall goal.

If those who deviate are not brought back in line, you will be taken as a weak leader and lose the respect of your team.


Silence is not golden. In fact, unless the leader speaks up, others will misinterpret his silence to their advantage.

In other words, if you don't speak regularly to your team, who will? The one whom people listen to often ends up being the one they will follow.


The writer is a trainer who helps leaders achieve consistent results at work, at home and in life. The article first appeared in The Star online.