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Should Leaders Be Nice... Or Kind?

Stashed in: Leadership!, #kindness, Awesome, Compassion, Leadership, Benjamin Franklin, Nice!

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Being Kind Isn’t Nice

When I was editing my book, feedback from people I respect wasn’t always nice, but they were actually kind. The kindness was taking a risk to help me improve. Yes, there were times when I silently raged against the feedback… but in the end I appreciated friends who were willing to step up and tell me things I didn’t want to hear — but needed to know.

Nice Doesn’t Lead to Success

Leaders voice an opinion, even when others disagree. Being agreeable is a trait you want to have in your team, but as a leader, people must trust that they will get the real goods from you. Even when it is unpleasant and not ‘nice,’ they need to trust you to be forthright.

Although agreeableness is positively correlated with teamwork, it is negatively correlated with leadership success. The leader who is not satisfied with an employee must be strong enough to let him know clearly what he needs to do and the expectations for performance. Wanting to be seen as a popular or a nice boss is the surest way to fail.

For example, an employee underperforms. The “nice” person may dance around and be so “careful” that the feedback becomes a blur. The tough leader hits the truth so hard the recipient can’t hear it. The effective leader delivers a clear message about what’s needed, when, and why — in a way that engages the employee to take action. Truth without a bludgeon. These leaders are willing to stand in the heat of a difficult conversation because they’re committed to their employee’s growth and to maintaining clear expectations.

Bottom Line

High trust leaders deliver clear expectations. They articulate the needs and consequences in a way that’s both direct and kind. They let people know where they stand and use language that is easy to understand. They don’t spin the truth to make it sound “nice.”

In too many cases niceness to an underperformer is often un-kind, un-nice, un-fair, and damaging to the overall group...this fact is too often ignored for too long making the issue bigger and tougher to correct.

Yes, I think that's part of the point: be careful who you're nice to.

Nice to an underperformer means not nice to the rest of the team.

You're their boss, not their friend... so your job isn't to build up their self-esteem, it is to help them be successful on the job -- either there or elsewhere.

I definitely concur that often the manager needs to resist "squeaky wheel gets the grease" syndrome and focus on what's best and fairest for the WHOLE TEAM.

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a team is remove someone who underperforms. 

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