What If You Have More People Pleasers Than High Performers?

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves” - Ray Kroc

Great teams consist of a wide variety of personalities with different skill-sets who collectively strive to achieve a common goal. A challenge for leaders is to unlock everybody’s potential within the context of achieving team success. It’s a delicate balancing act that leaders don’t always get correct. This is especially true when leaders are misled into thinking people pleasers are high performers.

A company I worked for many years ago did several acquisitions. When combining 2 businesses there was usually rationalisation opportunities. For the business unit I was leading I had to determine who was and wasn’t part of the new entity. It was a big responsibility I wanted to get right for each individual and the organisation. What became evident during this experience was the difference between people pleasers and high performers. As such, I had to validate between nice stories someone thought would appeal to me and what was real value-added performance.

On the surface, people pleasers are great to work with. They’re quite personable, jovial, and helpful. While they might not be hitting their targets, they can be quite crafty if they’re anticipating what they think their manager wants in other areas. No request is too big or small. As such, the manager can perceive someone as an invaluable “doer” when they’re not. Results matter. Goals, targets and deadlines suffer when a team consists of too many people pleasers.

High performers, on the other hand, may or may not be as pleasant to work with. I’m not saying being nice and high performance are mutually exclusive because they’re not. However, high performers are driven to consistently get the job done. As such, they can sometimes come across as impatient or less social than people pleasers.

What leaders need to do is help people pleasers become better at achieving their targets. They’re ideal candidates to do so because they already have a good attitude. What they lack though are the personal productivity skills they need to unlock their potential.

To be the best team possible, make sure there’s just the right balance between people pleasers and high performers.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.