Are You Too Nice to Lead?
by Kate Nasser |
The word leader used to mean strong, directive, and sometimes unfeeling. That picture has shifted to less directive and more in touch with employees’ needs.
Yet where is the balance between results-focused and people-focused? In tough moments …
Are you too nice to lead?
Image by: SeanbJack via Creative Commons License
There are team members who want, welcome, and will only work for a nice leader — until they see that the nice leader won’t address poor performance and cannot negotiate tough issues with other teams and management.
They feel unprotected and at the mercy of slacking team members and other teams. So much for being nice!
Too Nice to Lead
- With Fear of Conflict. If you tend to avoid conflict and want people to just work things out for themselves, you may be seen as too nice to lead.
Alternative: Get a coach to help you develop your conflict resolution skills. Great leaders move past their fear. They know when to step in and even teach others how to work together.
- In Times of Great Change. In everyday work, your teams think of you as a very effective leader. Then the organization announces a major change and you must lead your teams through it. The tension rises and your teams resist. In this moment of truth, do you lead them forward? If you cave in to their objections and resistance, your boss may see you as too nice to lead.
Alternative: Have the courage to draw on the good will you have with your team. Show them you believe in them and in the change. If you don’t believe it, why should they?
- When You Require Emotional Support. Being humble and less directive can be good for your team because the void taps their talent and commitment. Being less confident and needing constant emotional support can scare the bejeebers out of them and earn you the label of too nice or weak to lead.
Alternative: Learn and understand the interplay between being confident and being humble. Confidence is strength for your team. Humbleness opens the door to growth. Both are valuable leadership traits. Lack of confidence isn’t.
- If You Must Be Liked. Needing to be liked can steer you to many poor leadership behaviors. It can drive you to sacrifice results for the virtual hug. This can earn you the label of too nice to lead.
Alternative: Develop relationships outside of work that can fulfill this deep need. At work, focus on the balance of interpersonal connection and end results.
- When You Get Promoted. Picture yourself leading your former peers and maybe even being a peer of your former boss. Guilt or feelings of unworthiness can make you seem timid or too solicitous. This can earn you the label of too nice to lead.
Alternative: Your boss or another leader put their faith in you. You were promoted for a reason. The team you lead needs your courage and talent. Even if some team members grouse in jealousy, the team’s success depends on your willingness to do the job. Embrace the responsibility you were given; don’t trigger the decision maker’s doubt and regret. Believe in yourself, the purpose, and the team. Lead.
- If You Own Their Behavior. When you mistakenly believe that you are responsible for a team member’s behavior, you are at risk of giving an errant employee too many chances. You may take their behavior as your failure. If you are coaching one of your team members and they are not making progress, would you be able to tell them they are no longer on the team? If not, you may earn the label of too nice to lead.
Alternative: Afford your team members the adult responsibility of owning their own behavior. Coach, teach, guide — yes. Own their behavior? No.
- When Your Career is Paramount. When you care about your career growth more than the current position, you may automatically say yes to other teams or management requests instead of using appropriate assessment and thought. You are busy pleasing everyone else and your current team’s success may suffer. If you are lucky, this may earn you the label of too nice to lead. If you are not lucky, it may earn you a different label that isn’t fit for print. Either way, it’s not what a great leader does.
Alternative: Let current successes, appropriate interactions, and great negotiation pave your career path.
As the definition of leadership has shifted from rough directive behavior to engaging employees, some leaders have veered off course and focused only on happiness.
Rediscover the balance and you foster success for all!
You can be liked and fail as a leader; you can be disliked and fail as a leader.
You succeed when you balance purpose and people, encouraging and deciding, listening and speaking up.
I wish you courage and strength and the insight to know how to use it.
From professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, customer service, customer experience, and teamwork. She turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.