1247974211_d47c5d1d08_mAs a product of Southern culture, I have a high value for and affinity with the concept of nice. Be nice. Be polite. Be diplomatic. Simply being nice has had enormous benefits on my life and work.

Some people, however, struggle with nice and end up paying the price. One client was nice to the extent that his business was losing money, key staff were taking home more than he was AND they were complaining about it. Saving for retirement? Nope. Kids college savings? Nope. Another client was nice to the extent that his team was in chaos. They set their own goals. They set their own schedules. They bought equipment without consultation. This leader explained that he was being nice and wanted his team to be empowered. They thought he was a joke.

These two extreme cases are examples of a fundamental misunderstanding of nice. They forgot or misunderstood that nice (accommodating the needs of others) must be tempered by needs of self. Nice unanchored to assertiveness for our own goals is a recipe for dysfunction.

As with many things the key is balance. Being overly concerned with needs of others at expense of needs for ourselves will lead to resentment in a person which at some point will damage relationships and the performance of teams. An unhealthy need to please others can be insidious and something to be aware of if we are to develop our best as leaders. And of course the person all wrapped up in themselves with no concern for others is the unsavory flip side of being overly nice.

Just nice? It can lead to issues personally and professionally. Nice and assertive? That’s the ticket.


(Photo Flickr Creative Commons Liz Jones)