Thursday, June 25, 2009

OPINION: ‘Nice’ guys go to heaven; all others could be corporate honchos

Assuming you are not reading this entry along with your boss, you might probably LOL at the notion of a ‘nice boss’. And there are enough Boss Jokes sites anyways. But consider this: what if some years down the line you get into that very position, or if you are already leading a team, what do your subordinates think of you? Can you be ‘nice’ and still get the job done?

In his book, ‘Snapshots from Hell’, Peter Robinson mentions that the workplace is driven by ‘testosterone induced aggression’ - a set of masculine traits such as dominance, fierceness and even ruthlessness. Being a boss entails managing a team to get the desired results within the specified time frame in such a competitive corporate environment. So when the pressure mounts and deadlines approach, a boss can’t be smooth-tongued with the team for a successful completion.

If you look around your workplace vicinity, you might be surprised to see that the guys with candy-sweet words and easy temper aren’t quite high up while the guys who are not considered so are usually in the big league. Don’t confuse this correlation with causation; aggressiveness might be seen in most people high up but it might not be the (only) cause/reason why they are up there. Needless to say, other leadership qualities are essential. But so is aggressiveness. Simply put, you can’t aspire to be the CEO of your company next month by snapping at all the people you meet from now on. But if you ever intend to get there, you can’t do so by being ‘nice’.

A boss who is achievement-oriented can’t possibly be people-oriented at the same time. So he is unlikely to grant you a week’s leave when an important milestone is round the bend, thereby incurring your displeasure and this is where he differs from the ‘nice’ guys. Eventually, it is this that takes him higher up. He doesn’t allow his ‘desire to be nice’ to impede his ‘desire to achieve and deliver’ when he is forced to pick only one of the two. Not that he resorts to aggressiveness at the very first instance but he doesn’t back off when he thinks it is time to do so. And looking at it from an organizational perspective, ‘nice’ guys could end up being repetitive show-stoppers while the aggressive guys could be the ones the organization counts on to deliver progressively. Therefore, being ‘nice’ is perhaps not a quality organizations look for!

If you are planning to climb the corporate ladder, you might probably want to gear up for the ‘not-so-nice’ title. Yea, you can practice putting on that mean face right away but don’t forget to exit Solitaire and show some great results out of the task you are currently working on ;)

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