Good Leaders Know When To Hug And When To Kick
“Authenticity requires taking the time to reflect on your personal weaknesses. Everyone has different faults that influence their decisions and behaviors. One of my big weaknesses as a leader is that I tend to be too soft when it comes to dealing with employees and partners.
When it comes to the old ‘stick or carrot’ approach to motivating those around me, I overwhelmingly favor the carrot. I have a deep desire to see my team and partners find success, happiness, and fulfillment in the work we do.
Unfortunately, this approach can cause problems if left unchecked. When a leader tries too hard to be a friend rather than a manager, it becomes almost impossible to make the tough decisions that are right for the business.
Know when to hug and when to kick
One of my favorite books is Jack Welch’s 2001 management treatise ‘From the Gut.’ In it, he talks about how leaders can be both firm and fair. ‘This isn’t about being tough-minded and straightforward,’ says Welch. ‘That’s the job. But so is sensing when to hug and when to kick.’
… I have to admit that I have historically let underperformance and bad behaviors go on too long, only to reach a breaking point and snap. When this happens, my response seems out of the blue and team members can easily be frustrated or confused. I’ve learned that It is far better to be consistent in your approach, remaining friendly but ‘kicking’ when necessary.
One of my greatest regrets at BodeTree is how I handled two former employees we ended up having to terminate. I genuinely liked these individuals, and looked the other way when their performance wasn’t living up to expectations. I continued to nurture them, providing compensation increases and title promotions, but their performance always lagged. Ultimately things became so challenging that I was forced to make a change. …
Leadership is lonely
I want to be friends with my team members, and that often makes it hard for me to be firm when enforcing expectations. It’s similar to parenting in a sense. As a parent, you love your kid so much that you just want them to be happy and have fun no matter what. However, you also know that they have to learn responsibility, independence, honor, and honesty. You can’t teach those things by always letting be behaviors slide. Kids need their parents to be parents, not friends.”