Thursday, December 15, 2011

Are You Too Nice?

Photo by Armando Maynez

Mean or Strict?

When I taught high school students, periodically a student would tell me: "Mister, you're mean."

I often replied: "I'm not mean. I'm strict. I care about you too much to let you [fill in the blank]."

Real Caring

I believe effective leaders care for the people they lead.

However, it is easy to confuse caring with being pleasant. They are not the same thing. As with those students who interpreted guidance I knew to be in their best interest as "mean", you may encounter an inner voice (or even a team member's voice) that tells you you're not being nice when you act in the best interests of another person.

Truly caring for another person will at times mean saying something that is unpleasant for them to hear and which you don't particularly enjoy saying.

You can say it firmly, you can say it kindly, you can maintain your respect for the other person, and you can reinforce their dignity. All these are desirable. Nonetheless, it may not feel nice or agreeable.

And yet, providing this feedback and helping a team member understand the negative consequences of their actions may be the most caring thing you ever do for some people. It gives them a chance to grow and experience more of life.

Are You Too Nice?

If being agreeable and getting along with your team is preventing you from addressing uncomfortable subjects, the answer is yes.

You are preventing your team members from growing and you are reducing your credibility with your team.

It's Time

It's time to begin caring for your team. Pick one issue you know needs to be might start by clarifying your own expectations with your team. Or it might be time to address the destructive behavior everyone knows about, but no one mentions.

If you need to practice, find a colleague and role play. If you can't find someone, contact me and I'll help.

Get started today. Your team needs you to care.

Read More:
Take care,

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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