Friends, Fans, and Foes: Learning to Please The Ones That Matter

In a multitude of voices, it’s important that you determine who you can trust. Not everyone’s opinion should carry the same weight.

via Dennis Yang @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Dennis Yang @ Flickr Creative Commons

We all want to be successful leaders, but the surest way NOT to do that is to try to please too many people at the same time. In this post, I’ll share how to know who to listen to.

As a principal, I often found myself caught between a rock and a hard place.

Routinely, situations would include multiple groups that I would try to appease. I felt the pressure from the expectations of my supervisor and board, from the student, from the teacher, from the parents.

The greatest scenario is when they can all agree on the judgement of the outcome.

The second greatest scenario is when they may not agree on the outcome, but can at least agree on my intentions and respect my judgement.

But the scenario that usually plays out when you involve so many parties is some agree with your motives and judgement while others don’t.

Feeling Caught In The Middle?

Have you found yourself there? It’s a place full of stress. It involves sleepless nights and high-blood-pressure days.

When you’re not confident in your own leadership, you’ll seek for acknowledgement anywhere you can get it, even if it’s from people you can’t ever really please.


Friends are those people who genuinely care about you. Their motives are pure. Their concern for you is just. They believe in you and the potential that exists within you.

These are the people you want to surround yourself with. When they speak, be sure to listen. Because their encouragement and concerns stem from a deep-rooted love for you, you can be sure to trust them.


Fans are sort of fickle. They may be singing your praises today, but gossiping about you tomorrow. Their loyalty to you lies only as deep as your ability to continually appease them.

Until you identify someone as a fan, their praise can make you think they’re actually a friend. As a leader, you’ll find these are the ones that can really sting you.

I’ve seen many leaders begin to distance themselves from everyone because they were hurt by a fan they thought was a friend.


Foes are your enemies. Yes, I said enemies.

As a leader, you’re going to make people mad. It probably won’t be something you did intentionally, but it will certainly happen.

Some people will be jealous of your position. As a result, you will be the optimal target for their sarcasm, their false accusations, and for their juicy gossip.

Foes will find a reason to talk about you no matter what you do.

Maybe they truly dislike you. Maybe they truly dislike theirself.


If you can’t identify which group to place those in your life, you’ll quickly find yourself stressing to please each person in your path…including those who really don’t matter.

As a leader, you’ll be tempted at times to want to please everyone. The fact is that you only need to please your friends…those who have your best interest at heart.

Friends would include God, the family and friends you have close relationships with, and even those co-workers you know have your back.

When you make decisions that honor God, your friends, and your own conscience, you’ll be able to sleep soundly at night…and THAT is why it’s important to know who belongs in this group.

QUESTION: What other traits have you found in those you would categorize as “friends”?

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