By Sydney Finkelstein
Everyone wants a nice boss. And if a nice boss is one who respects me and my work, challenges me to get better and wants to see me grow as both a professional and a leader, then I’m for it too.
Just because you have a nice boss, doesn’t mean you have a good boss
But too many people look at a hard-charging boss and jump to the conclusion that he or she is a tyrant.
Here’s what these people don’t get: just because you have a nice boss, doesn’t mean you have a good boss.
I’ve seen plenty of bosses who might talk the talk about demanding exceptional performance but, all too often, they just want employees to like them. What’s more, they want people to speak well of them, to be “friends” with them. This type of boss is afraid that if they set high performance targets and challenge their staff to meet and surpass them, their esteem will slip. As a result, they ease up on their expectations, sometimes without realising it. Not surprisingly, performance falters.
These immensely successful bosses don’t care much about being liked
Some of the best leaders I’ve seen, whether in research or coaching, come to work with a razor-sharp focus on results. These immensely successful bosses don’t care much about being liked. Their expectations are both staggering and non-negotiable — and their teams know it.
Take, for example, US real estate guru Bill Sanders. “Everybody knew that Bill demanded results,” said Ronald Blankenship, former chairman and CEO of Verde Realty, a real estate investment trust and long-time associate of Sanders. “If you were going to work with him, you needed to be prepared to make that your primary focus.”
These great leaders are not afraid to lay down the law — they don’t hesitate for an instant. And paradoxically, their toughness, accompanied by their adherence to their unique and inspiring visions, often generates more esteem among their reports, not less.
How do you know if you’re falling prey to the Nice Boss Syndrome?
In fact, it generates something greater than mere esteem among most employees: A profound respect, loyalty, even love.
Of course, being tough doesn’t mean being offensive. How do you know if you’re falling prey to the Nice Boss Syndrome? Consider these questions — and keep track of your yesses.
- During the past year, have you changed your expectations for someone more than once after he or she failed to perform or meet your standards?