Being nice does not mean being a doormat

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I’m not aggressive and I have to get it done. I’m a nice guy, but while I tend to see the best in other people, I know I also get walked on by vendors, customers and sometimes even employees. How do I find the balance?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Think about what makes you call yourself a “nice guy.” Hone skills that are synonymous with leadership. Make sure you’re clear about where you want to go with the company. Make asking for input a sign of strength, not weakness.


Are you always listening to what people have to say? Is your door always open, with you welcoming people who stop by? Perhaps a little less availability or exclusivity might make you feel more in control.

Make a decision and stick with it. Once a decision is made you may be tempted to second-guess yourself — don’t. While good leaders are always considering options and alternatives, they also know that it’s essential they are out front, leading the way, charting a clear path.

While holding people accountable is an essential management skill, it’s also important to seek consensus, show compassion; forgiving mistakes will help everyone be more productive. Managers who think about how decisions will impact others are shown to consistently deliver higher ROI versus self-focused managers.

It’s okay to take a stand and tell people you mean it. It’s okay to overrule people, if there’s a good reason for doing so. Hone your ability to coach people around to your point of view, rather than barking out direct orders.

Make sure that people don’t miss your point of view, as you try to take in all opinions. Be willing to state what you are trying to accomplish and know when it’s time to cut off the debate.

If you feel you’re not as good at speaking, send out a well-written memo to explain your positions. Write out your vision for where the company is headed. Post it on a wall and refer to it often, especially when questions arise about the direction of things.

If you are willing to consider options, be careful how you position that openness. Know when it’s time to make a decision and move on. If you’re starting to hear the same arguments over and over, it’s time to stop the debate and challenge everyone move forward. Letting people wallow too long in discussion without demanding action is a waste of company resources.

Tell those around you that you’re looking for input in order to hone ideas. Tell people that it’s your choice to seek input, and that you’re doing so in order to gain insight. Then make it clear that the final decision is yours and when the time is ready, you’ll step up to the plate to make the final call.

When it comes to decision-making, think of yourself as the senior umpire in a game. You may ask the other umps in the game for their input; you may go to “roll the tape” to further analyze specifics. But when it comes time to make the call, it’s your decision, no one else’s.

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Don’t worry if everyone likes your call — someone is alway
s likely to disagree. Keep your eye on those who do object. Do they do it just sometimes, or all the time? Do they do it to your face, or behind your back? Do they have good reasons for objecting, or are they just complaining to hear themselves talk? If you answered yes to the first half of those questions, you’re probably ok.

If you answered “yes” to the second half of those questions, you have a problem on your hands. Take the person aside, they need to get on board and be more supportive, or they need to go find something else to do. Remind them that if push comes to shove, you own the company and will still be there long after others have come and gone.


Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently, by John Maxwell.


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