The US editor and journalist Herbert B. Swope once said ” I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure- which is: Try to please everybody.”

How true this is- with regard to leadership. In any organization, the leader has to keep in mind the interests of different entities- almost always having divergent needs and priorities.

The shareholders have invested their wealth in the organization and expect a fair return. Moreover, they expect it -now and always! Very few look at the long term. They want profits quarter on quarter and constant increases in their returns on investment over the years.

The customers are those who keep the organization busy with their demand for its products and services. Yet they are demanding too. Simply stated they want more- for less. We as consumers expect organizations to deliver to us products and services which are better than before at  lower prices.

The employees contribute their time and talent to produce those products and services. In return they have their list of demands too. They expect higher compensation, better conditions at work, more challenges in their jobs and these days- possibly above everything else, job security.

There are of course more such entities but the challenge before the leader remains the same. The role of the leader is to balance the varied expectations of these entities while keeping the goals of the organization in mind. The decisions he/she takes to achieve this goal will leave someone or the other unhappy- but that’s the risk one takes.

We would expect leaders to do what they believe is in the best interests of the organization as a whole. This means fighting the temptation to let one set of priorities and demands outweigh all the others. Also of  taking a larger view of things rather than backing the here and now interests of one entity over that of all others.

On a larger canvas than individual organizations, a new era has begun in US politics. We waited for Barack Obama to become the 44th President of the United States with a great deal of expectations. The people who voted him to office now expect him to deliver as the nation’s Chief Executive.

I have no doubt that in a short while he will soon discover the merit of  Swope’s words : You simply can’t please everybody.