A Secret Ambition to be Unpopular | HR Fishbowl

I spout off with the unabashed frankness of a four-year-old. I curse like a one-eyed-drunken-sailor. I have an A.D.H.D. level of tolerance for the mediocre and the mundane. I’m stubborn – particularly when it comes to my opinion. I like to argue. And if I don’t like you – for whatever reason – you’ll be the second person to know it. I used to worry about my popularity. Now I don’t.

Getting there is (sometimes) more important than how you get there.

Let’s face it: rainbows, butterflies and mylar balloons are nice; but if that’s all we had flying around the office, we’d quickly grow disgusted by them…in a maddening way. If we all went around glad-handing one another, we’d never get anything done…or at least we’d never get anything really meaningful done. You don’t necessarily have to be liked t0 be a “credible activist.” In fact, making people just a little uncomfortable is often the spark you need to light a big old 5-alarm fire. And if someone tells you to “take that hill,” sometimes you gotta march right up there and take it with little regard for friendly fire or civilian casualties.

‘Popular’ is not in your job description.

You’re already unpopular with the rank and file: the first reaction from any employee when they see you walking down the hall will always be, “oh crap, what did I do now.” But I know you’re trying very hard to be (and stay) popular with your superiors, the leadership team at-large, and maybe even your peers. You’ve been told to  “stoop to conquer”; that in order to advance the cause you must first win over the hearts of others; that you’ll be more successful in “moving the needle” if people like you. Sure, that’s probably true…if you only want to move the needle a notch or two…or if you’re willing to wait a lifetime for the needle to move.

Well, I don’t want that.

I hope you never miss the opportunity to try something new, to take a risk, to speed things up, or to bring a game-changing talent management idea to the conversation because you’re afraid it will compromise your popularity. In fact, develop a secret ambition to be unpopular. Make the hard pitch, wrestle with the cutting-edge, force the tough conversation, and address the elephant in the room. If it makes your people, your talent, and your organization better, who cares if it makes you popular?

Image Credit: el-maddog

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