Many people rising through the ranks gain their success and promotion by getting the best out of others. Motivating, encouraging and, well, being nice.
They consider the goals and dreams of others and find ways of harmonising their own goals with others’ so they can get a great result for everyone.
However, it is not unusual at elevated levels for them to be told by their boss, “You’re too nice”. Many of the nice guys I’ve coached who have had this levelled at them (and there have been quite a few) find it hard to come to terms with this feedback.
To accept the advice would mean they have to betray their integrity and way of being. Initially, most think that they are being asked to be “horrible”. The advice therefore gets rejected and the feedback continues, “You’re too nice”.
Often what is being asked for is not to be horrible, but to toughen up and be more assertive. This is a different thing altogether. You can still be nice to people while also being tough, challenging and even demanding. In fact, many people quite like this because it displays firm, decisive leadership. Three apt phrases…
“Firm but fair”
“You have to be cruel to be kind.”
Well maybe the last one is probably stretching your sense of niceness too far. Nevertheless, make sure and be clear about what is being asked for by your boss — then find a way to do what they suggest without losing your integrity.
Once people get their heads around this, one of the challenges I often set is to get tough with the boss next time they are told they are too nice!