CBS MoneyWatch posted an article yesterday about being too nice a boss that’s misguided in some unfortunate ways.
The article lists six signs that you’re being “too nice”:
- Deadlines are regularly missed.1
- You’re the butt of jokes.2
- Your input is ignored.
- You’re sharing too much info.
- You’re always sharing credit.
- You’re treated like a pal.
Number 5 is capital-W Wrong, and number 6 is misguided when it gets into the details.
Credit is like love; the more you give, the more you get. The more credit you accord your team, the more credit will accrue to you as their manager and leader. The more you say “we did” mixed with “Robin-did,” the harder your team will work, the more they’ll get done, and the greater the amount of credit and respect you’ll gather.
Few managers praise their teams enough.
That doesn’t mean you need to say constantly, “Robin and Leslie keep this place running, and I don’t know why they need me to manage them.” But managers say “I” often enough. Remember that “we” includes “I.” Good leaders are secure in their leadership… and know that grooming their replacement allows them to move up, gives the team even more incentive to work harder, and presents a strong picture to your own manager.3
Number 6 is more nuanced. Clearly you don’t need to be best buddies with your team or, worse, participate in damaging gossip or rumor-mongering. However, we spend increasing amounts of our time at work, and multiple studies show one of the determinants of workplace success and happiness is strong collegial relationships coupled with caring about each other as people. There’s a balance each manager needs to find between friendliness and oversharing.
My biggest takeaway is that the author sounds like she’s managing scared. However, I see nothing in her bio to suggest she’s ever been a manager.
Managing scared is not a recipe for success as a manager. Yes, there’s plenty to be scared about — what’s the competition doing, are we doing everything we can to deliver the best work for our customers or clients, is the market changing faster than we can adapt. Do worry about those kinds of things. But don’t worry that your team might be out to get you. It rarely happens that way.4
Rather, focus on helping them succeed, take an interest in their professional development, care about them as people, and share the credit while absorbing the brunt of any blame. Do this, and there’ll be very little blame, a whole lot of credit to you and them, and a clearly marked road to success.