Do “nice” people make poor leaders?


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Definitely not! Well, let me start with that so you know where my sensibilities lie right at the beginning.

Niceness is a very valuable trait in any person, something that is becoming rare in today’s competitive environment.

“Nice” character traits most generally include agreeableness, trust, being a straight shooter, modesty and kindness. A person with niceness as a part of their personality generally tends to stay the same through life. Character traits are the blue print of a person and very rarely change unless the person experiences certain very hard life situations. As a result, the person develops a shield that they try to use to cover up their original personality fearing a recurrence of the bitterness that affected them.

It’s also a fact that more often that not, nice people are taken advantage of. But, that is where the use of personal charm comes into play so as to ensure that one is not abused. People in general are subtly biased towards niceness and feel that a nice person wouldn’t mind being pushed a little. Again, being nice is one thing, but you should also hold your stand and be firm. Niceness is not a weakness; it’s a virtue that is bolstered by being firm.

So, being nice is not always about putting others before you but is about putting yourself before others where it would benefit you as well as the others.

Leadership is about setting example, being a role model and leading the way towards mutual success. What better example to set than being nice yet being firm for a leader’s traits tend to permeate through the organization.

Any organization has

  • a responsibility towards its shareholders, employees and customers; its corporate responsibility;
  • a responsibility towards the community it thrives in and where its people resources live, its social responsibility and;
  • a responsibility towards the business it is in, towards the intellectual capital used; which in today’s time translates into intellectual responsibility.

It’s a leader’s duty, no matter at what level within the organization to safeguard and work towards the fulfillment of these responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

There are leaders that consider that corporate responsibility trumps it all. Again, there is bias towards the shareholders or the customers over employees and vice versa.

If employees feel neglected, their morale goes down and as a result, customers and shareholders suffer. If customers are neglected; no matter how much you may focus on the employees, the business as a whole suffers paving way for not being able to support those employees at all. If shareholders suffer, it has a ripple effect on the well being of the employees and customers.

Not one of them is exclusive. Hence, sound decisions have to be taken in consideration of the business as a whole. That is where the trait of niceness kicks in. A “nice” leader tends to see the big picture and contemplates about the morale and well being of the employees, the health of the business, the focus on shareholders as well as the top notch service that the customers deserve. The key is business health, not purely the financials or what the shareholders seek in terms of financial gain; which can at times happen at the expense of employees or customers. In such unharmonious situations, the rewards are short-lived.

Investing in the community where the organization lives and safeguarding and investing in the growth of intellectual capital are equally important to the long healthy life of a corporation.

As a business leader, it is important to have a sound mind and make sound decisions. There are 2 schools of thought; one that suggests the importance of empathy in business and the other, which states that business decisions are to be devoid of emotions.

I am of the opinion that a balanced approach to decision making is important. Too much or too less of anything can hurt. After all, a business is not just about money. It’s about the knowledge capital invested, the people and their skills that come into play to serve the customers that pay and expect the best possible service for their dollar. Each of these is vital and more important than that, the harmoniousness of their coming together to form the corporation and all that results from it is unique and truly admirable.

Someone who truly understands this and keeps it top of mind while imparting their duty makes the most ideal employee, the most ideal leader.

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