Leadership

People Don’t Always ‘Like’ Effective Leaders – Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

Amanda McIntyre has been managing and leading people for most of her career. She sat down with Helen McCabe and shared her secrets to leading with purpose and clarity - and why being beloved isn't all it's cracked up to be.

By Becks Adamson

Leadership

Amanda McIntyre has been managing and leading people for most of her career. She sat down with Helen McCabe and shared her secrets to leading with purpose and clarity - and why being beloved isn't all it's cracked up to be.

By Becks Adamson

There are many ways to describe leadership.

Some leaders are authoritative, others democratic, collaborative or transformational.

But for Amanda McIntyre, Defence Lead Partner at PwC, the description that always stuck was one gifted to her by a friend.

‘Fierce, but kind,’ she answers when Future Women Leadership Series Podcast host Helen McCabe asks what style of leadership she favours.

It’s a style that served her well in her tenure as Chief Financial Officer at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and as the Head of the Office for Women.

It remains her chosen style now that she’s moved into the private sector.

Having worked as a leader in high-achieving, male-dominated environments throughout her career, Amanda has plenty of advice for anyone facing workplace challenges.

‘In the public service, you’ve got a level of positional authority. It doesn’t matter which department you’re in, someone will understand what level of authority you have.’

Things are less clear in the private sector.

‘Without that positional authority, you have to give people a real reason to follow you as a leader, and so that really does draw on your own personal leadership skills,’ she explains.

With a background in finance, it seemed almost inevitable that Amanda would face the challenge of working with, and leading, male-dominated teams.

There were often challenges to her leadership style – mostly coming from team members Amanda suspected were uncomfortable being led by a woman.

She learned to acknowledge that some colleagues needed more time to adapt to her leadership approach. But a major lesson taught her that confronting those who question authority was necessary to finding a path forward.

‘I have learnt from those situations not to let them fester, because there is always an opportunity for either the individuals to resolve their differences or for people to move on,’ Amanda shares.

Casting her mind back to a previous role, Amanda relays an example of a colleague who openly undermined her authority. Rather than take it personally, she opened a dialogue and found that once all grievances and assumptions had been aired, her colleague reflected on, and changed, his behaviour.

‘I’d be really disappointed if they had said to me ‘nobody in the team thinks you are competent’, but the fact that nobody likes me – while disappointing – doesn’t prevent me from doing a good job.’

Amanda encourages leaders to consider the best possible place for team members to grow and develop their skills.

‘I am a big believer in trying to find the right role for the right individual – even if that’s not in my team.’

‘You have to realise it’s not about you – it’s about them and how they are feeling. And try to come up with a solution that really respects the individual.’

Amanda also warns that no matter how hard you try, people aren’t always going to like you, especially when you’re making tough decisions.

So how does she take the emotion out of making the hard choices?

Although it is never easy, Amanda focuses on how to respond to a situation, rather than react to it.

It served particularly well when a colleague mentioned that ‘nobody liked’ her.

Initially hurt, Amanda chose a different approach once the dust settled and shifted her own mindset.

‘I’d be really disappointed if they had said to me ‘nobody in the team thinks you are competent’, but the fact that nobody likes me – while disappointing – doesn’t prevent me from doing a good job.”

Missed this episode of the Future Women Leadership Series Podcast? Catch up wherever you get your podcasts or listen here.