Successful executives are not nice!

By Todd Ardal via cobizmag.com   Article

Who do you need to be as a leader?

“From the minute we engage with other humans (and even pets!) our parents tell us, ‘Be nice!’ This is intended to be a catchall for eliminating behaviors like hitting, screaming, crying, or anything that makes the other people in the sandbox feel bad.

As we get older, we’re rewarded for being nice. When my kids were in elementary school, their teachers frequently complimented them for being nice, as in, ‘He hasn’t turned in any of his homework and has failed the past three tests, but he’s such a nice boy!’

As adults, we continue to be rewarded for being nice. My wife is nice. When someone knocks on the door trying to sell magazine subscriptions or cookies, or even trim our trees, she happily has a meaningful conversation with whoever interrupted dinnertime.

Practically, there isn’t much harm in this behavior. The worst-case scenario is a nominal loss of time and too many Girl Scout cookies in the pantry. However, when we lead and manage others, being nice isn’t always the most effective approach.

There’s a substantial difference between being nice and being kind. Nice is born out of fear, and kind is born out of love. The fear of not being liked, or fear of conflict, prevents us from speaking the truth. But if we are kind, we will overcome that fear. Most of the time, you are willing to tell someone you love that they are making a big mistake, even at the risk of offending them or hurting their feelings.

Now let’s apply this nice versus kind behavior to the work environment. Nice managers will always find something to compliment. Kind managers will tell you what you need to know to succeed, even when the message is that your current practices are screwing things up. Nice leaders don’t want anyone to feel bad, but when they stand in the middle of the road, they end up getting hit by traffic going both ways. Not only do they fail to protect people’s feelings, they end up losing a lot more than just the smile on their face.”

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