In a recent WSJ article entitled ” Forget Bluster; Times Favor a Kinder, Gentler Boss” the topic of …”how tough is too tough” is discussed. The author’s suggest that being a “hard-edged leader is riskier than it used to be” and cited recent studies and surveys by those studying executive leadership all indicating that perhaps a trend is upon us in modern leadership.
In reading the article, I was reminded of recent (and not so recent) conversations on the topic of being “too nice” as it relates to exerting power, influence and leadership. Is there really such a thing as being too nice in leadership?
This blog was originally founded and inspired by the principles of “servant leadership” contemplating the fact that in order to lead, one must serve those he or she is leading. Take the quotes below:
“There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being to help someone succeed.”
The fact remains that there is a balance that must be sought in leadership today. Challenging the status quo and other individuals is a necessary part of leadership, but it must always be done with respect and genuine care for others. At the same time, a strong leader allows others in the organization to also challenge the status quo in order to find new and better ways of doing things, often resulting in innovation and success. That is why innovative companies today allow and foster new ways of thinking. Consider the following quote from Dr. Suzanne Willis Zoglio:
“As leaders shift their focus to customers and quality, they realize that the old authoritarian leadership style does not work anymore. To achieve quality, service, and rapid response, leaders must utilize all available talent. They must find ways to inspire, involve, and empower employees. They must create a work environment that encourages commitment, innovation, and cooperation. Instead of evaluating, leaders now coach. Instead of doing, they delegate. Instead of telling, they facilitate. No one is expected to boss anyone. Everyone is expected to participate.”
So the real challenge of modern leadership is to be able to balance the following:
1. First and foremost in order to lead you must fully understand the reality and offer the vision for the future.
2. You must lead with compassion and respect.
3. Difficult and even unpopular decisions must be made, but how you execute or guide others to execute these decisions marks your leadership legacy.
4. In the highly competitive nature of global business today, an organizations leadership is more critical than ever.
5. Innovation is the key to any long term organizations success. Poor leadership will inhibit innovation and strong leadership skills will foster it.