Can You Be a Leader With Nice-Guy-Itus?
- Monday, March 26, 2012
Purpose will not only motivate you. It will also empower you. In The Courageous Follower, Ira Chaleff says that an organization’s purpose is what empowers employees to confront their managers when that leader is pursuing something harmful to the organization. Another way purpose can empower nice-guys is in the pursuit of resources. If you are constantly trying to meet the needs of every department in the organization but your own, you are in trouble. Yes, it is good to be a team player, but remember that your department is critical to the success of your organization as well. Sometimes the organization’s success depends on your department getting resources at the expense of other departments.
Deal with Conflicting Values
Stephen Covey discusses a "moral compass" in his book Principle Centered Leadership. I like the image. The compass constantly points at in a fixed direction to help us navigate no matter our twists and turns. Core values do that as well. The trick of course, is figuring out what to do when our core values seem in contradiction to our organization's purpose. So we need another image. Think of a lever and fulcrum. The question becomes, how long is the lever? The longer the lever, the less force is needed to move a resistant item. So let's translate this into leadership. How much you "care" about a value represents the length of your lever. The more you care about one value in contrast with another, the less resistance it takes to bring you to action.
Give Appropriate Feedback
Sometimes that action means confronting others when core values are resisted, and that confrontation should be appropriate in both content and mode. Appropriate content means speaking the truth. Unfortunately, the truth can be brutal (and I’ve noticed that nice-guys don’t like brutal truth). But even with brutal truth, an appropriate mode comes into play. It is possible to deliver bad news without being a bad guy. In fact, a lack of honesty can be cruel in some cases.
So how can you confront honestly without being a jerk? Start with an I-statement. "When you [action], I feel [feeling], and I need you to [action]." Or "when you [action] I feel it is contrary to [core purpose] so I need you to [action]." Admittedly there is no "magic bullet" for confronting someone, but these statements can be a helpful place to start.
Sometimes sharing "good news" is a great form of feedback. And while nice guys hate bragging, there are times they must make their successes public. If your department has a success that helps your boss achieve his mission, let him know about it. You are not bragging, you are giving feedback that is appropriate in both content and mode. Never be shy about your successes, and make sure everyone in your department knows about the successes of others as well. By reporting the successes of both your department and other departments in pursuit of your organization’s mission, you get to be both a nice guy and a good leader.
Stanley J. Ward is the Director of Campus Life and Ministry at The Brook Hill School in Bullard, TX. He is also author of Worldview Conversations: How to Share Your Faith and Keep Your Friends.
Publication date: March 26, 2012
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