A popular concept of a good manager is a tough-talking, focused, no-nonsense taskmaster who makes and takes no excuses; he (or she) gets the job done.
Ironically, when people describe the best managers they’ve worked for, they say things like, “took time to explain things,” “respected my abilities,” “taught me a lot,” “gave me opportunities to grow,” “was willing to listen to my ideas,” “supported me when....” This person sounds considerate, caring, helpful, and pleasant; we could call them “nice.”
So which is really the good manager?
You’re probably saying, “It depends on how you define ‘good manager.’”
“If it’s results you want, the no-nonsense manager is the one you’re after; their singular focus and determination will get results.”
“However, if you want a pleasant workplace where employees are happy and enjoy their work, you’ll choose the more patient and supportive manager.”
But do we have to choose? We want both. We need both!
Of course, we want results. Results are the reason our organizations exist.
But we also want a work environment that attracts good employees, inspires their best efforts, and encourages them to stay long term.
Can it be done? Can a manager be both results-oriented and nice?
It’s not common, of course. But yes, it can be done.
It’s what great managers do. They create a workplace where employees produce outstanding results, enjoy their work, and take pride in their achievements. Their people work hard and like their jobs (and their managers).
Great managers don’t see themselves as practicing two conflicting types of management at once. On the contrary, they believe being nice is the key to achieving the extraordinary results their teams get.
They strive to be nice as often as possible. Their goal is to be nice in every situation. Always nice.
You probably find it hard to imagine how an effective manager can always be nice. Many people do. After all, every manager has to handle difficult situations occasionally—bad behavior, underperformance, breaking the rules, insubordination, even termination. “Sometimes a manager has to be firm—even tough,” they say.
Indeed, a manager does face tough situations. And he can’t shirk his responsibility to handle them. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be nice.
In fact, every situation can be handled nicely. And being nice always yields better long-term results than not being nice.