Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, or Rosa Park have all found admiration at some stage of their journey. Some earlier, some later. And yet, even well-known personalities like them will not be admired by everyone.
All of them might be role models to others. However, their achievements often will seem so big, that following their lead and taking up similar action as them is only given to a few people.
In teams, admiration comes with a risk.
The leader becomes the person who knows how to do things, he becomes the one who is right.
It’s the point in time where he starts losing his ability to be effective.
Admiration comes with the idea that no contradiction is possible, that following the lead is the right thing to do. At the same time, admiration also creates a gap. Team members will compare their abilities with the ones shown by the person they admire. Depending on their self-esteem, and how much guidance the leader provides, they might feel enabled to achieve the same excellence. But often, seeing how much they have to learn, they will take the safe route to neither endanger their admiration nor do anything that might not be good enough.
For leaders who like to be in control, this is a difficult position. A team that admires the leader will also tend to give him all the authority and responsibility. It gives the leader the sense that he’s in charge and control of what is happening in his team. However, the team members might also find themselves hesitating to share and even see controversial data. It disconnects the leader from the information he needs to know, from the work being done, and even from his team.
While a leader might not be able to prevent admiration, he can do the work to stay in contact with reality. He can also help his team become aware of their hesitations and overcome them.