Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

Can one be a leader, and still be a nice guy?

Asked by Blackberry (29063 points ) July 14th, 2012

Leaders are usually portrayed as not the most personable people. This seems to be so with many “natural leaders” as well.

But what happens when a friendly and cheerful worker bee is put in a leadership position? Wouldn’t it make more sense for people to want a nice leader? That doesn’t seem to be the case, as you can go anywhere and hear someone discussing the level of douche their boss possesses.

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15 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Yes. But not all things a leader needs to do being that leader are nice. What makes the difference between nice and douche though, is the nice leader knows how to present the not so nice and unfun things about the tasks at hand without being a douche about it. It generally involves a total understanding of respect for the people he/she leads.

athenasgriffin's avatar

A leader can be moral and kind, but nice is generally not respected. A leader needs to be able to make the tough decisions without flinching, putting the objective or the good of the whole above the good of the individual. This does not seem to be a nice guy trait.

Plus the amiable person we tend to think of as the nice guy trends to not be a truly good person, but rather someone who is self centered, if friendly.

gondwanalon's avatar

Yes a leader can be a nice guy. But can a good or great leader be a nice guy? I don’t think so. Attila the Hun was a great leader. Was he a nice guy? Probably not.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was a good leader and a nice guy. If you have to be an asshole to drive your people you’re missing something major. Treat your people well, trust them, and give them your best, and expect the same back from them. You’ll be amazed at what they will do. And cut them lots of slack to live their lives. One of my guys couldn’t start his car one day. He ran six blocks, in a suit to be on time. I laughed a bit and told him never to do that again. I told him if he ever needs the additional time take it. I trusted him completely. He busted his ass for me.

filmfann's avatar

George W. was a nice guy, even though he was completely incompetent as a president.
He was more Cheerleader in Charge.

SavoirFaire's avatar

There are different kinds of leadership. Some people are head leaders while others are heart leaders. Head leaders tend to be all about plans, goals, and strategy. They are very analytic, and they typically address mistakes by making straightforward corrections. Their subordinates feel good when they do a good job. Heart leaders, meanwhile, tend to be all about personal encouragement, camaraderie, and vision. They are very emotive, and they typically address mistakes by focusing on opportunities for improvement. Their subordinates do a good job when they feel good.

Head leaders often come across as being cold and detached—i.e., not nice. Heart leaders come across as nice, but also as being easily taken advantage of—i.e., naive. It can be easy to manipulate a heart leader’s distaste for conflict and desire for everyone to feel included and important, but it can be difficult for a head leader to get people personally invested in something. This is perhaps why head leaders look for people who are already diligent and self-motivated, whereas heart leaders try to inspire dedication and enthusiasm in people. Each needs to get to the same place from different starting points.

In my experience, the best leadership teams have one of each type: a leader who lays down the law, and another who fires everyone up. It doesn’t necessarily matter which one outranks the other. A boss might lay down the law and walk away, leaving the assistant to say “we can do this!” Alternatively, the boss might say “go team!” and let the assistant stalk about making corrections. Some heart leaders do try to weed out analytic types to avoid the kinds of conflict they inevitably bring, however, while some head leaders fail to recognize the value of emotive types. This leads to unbalanced—and ineffective—teams.

Sunny2's avatar

A current leader of mine is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He never makes a correction without saying something nice first. Then he explains why he wants something done in a particular way. He’s funny and extremely knowledgeable about his field and earns the respect he gets. He’s understanding about people’s personal problems and will make arrangements to accommodate individual needs. Couldn’t ask for more.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I loved to watch Ben Smith coach the US womens hockey team. He never criticized a person, only the behavior. It was amazing.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think you can be a ‘nice’ leader. I think if you are ethical, caring of the people you work with, consistent in your approaches and you lead by positive example – people will value and respect that. On those occasions when you do have to take a harder line, if you are a decent person in a leadership role, those you lead will know it isn’t malicious or about your ambition, but is a necessary part of your job.

marinelife's avatar

Of course one can. You can be firm, but nice.

Coloma's avatar

Of course it’s possible! I am a charismatic and friendly type that has leadershio qualities. Leaders SHOULD have good social skills, be open minded, have their egos in check and be genuine and real people first and foremost of all. The best leaders know when to concede and when to just be one of guys/girls. No pretenses.

Ron_C's avatar

I have had leadership roles in both the military and current positions. I have a couple couple rules:

1. Never ask anyone to to something you would not be willing to do.

2. Pick the right people so that there is no need to micro-manage.

3. Never micro-manage.

4. Be polite to everyone and publicly praise people that are doing well.

5. Be polite to people that aren’t doing well and discreetly point out their mistakes and offer suggestions.

6. Dump trouble-makers as soon as possible.

digitalimpression's avatar

Leadership contains so many more aspects than whether or not someone is nice. So, being nice can be a trait that a good leader possesses but not exactly his/her driving force. I’ve known great leaders who were rough on their team which made them stronger. I’ve known nice leaders who got walked on. The best leaders I’ve had were able to find a balance between the two.

augustlan's avatar

Being nice doesn’t mean not being able to make the tough calls… you do have to be firm sometimes. I’d like to think I’m a nice person, and I’ve been in many management positions in the course of my work life. So far, so good.

Paradox25's avatar

Generally they’re called laissez-faire leaders. I’m sure that there are many exceptions to the laissez-faire type leader though.

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