No More Mr. Nice Guy Misconceptions- 5 Effective Leadership Approaches For a Nice Guy

Broadly speaking, every gentleman has perhaps struggled with some form of insecurity at a particular juncture in life. And I am certainly not a beneficiary of any special exclusions. To be sure, I am not immune to episodes of uneasiness and internal distress with what I perceive as personal character flaws. I put forth the best effort to manage and suppress feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction; sometimes with success and other times falling short. In many ways, writing is very therapeutic, and it is always my hope that my musings serve as encouragement and empowerment to readers. A circumstance this week prompted some self-reflection regarding certain insecurities that are a source of a long-standing internal battle. This is going to sound odd, but I struggle with being a nice guy. I understand that may seem strange, but allow me to explain further in detail.

If I may make the assumption, I am quite confident that my family, friends, and associates would describe me as a nice guy. And in many instances, that designation would be a compliment. I consider myself respectful, pleasant, courteous, and kind. These should be considered noble traits. However, being classified as a nice guy also has a negative connotation. In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, I can also be described as a guy that is soft-spoken, quiet, and non-confrontational. All things combined, well, now the moniker of being a nice guy takes a turn for the worse. When some individuals have referred to me as a “nice guy”, I am intelligent enough to decipher the context. Weak. Passive. Soft. When I became a supervisor, there wasn’t a question of knowledge or work ethic, but some individuals questioned whether I possessed people management skills necessary to lead a team. After all, I was a nice guy, and nice guys are pushovers.

The prevailing and misguided philosophy regarding management is one has to lead with bluster, aggression, and micromanagement. Colleagues disdain those types of leaders, yet subconsciously, people tend to believe those traits get the job done – for better or for worse. This typifies toxic leadership, so it is usually worse. Now, those adjectives don’t describe my personality, as I am a laid-back and easy-going individual. Now what occurred recently (centered around a work issue) was a subtle implication that my nice personality prevented me from making hard decisions, especially when friends within the department are involved. Admittedly, this tapped into my insecurity of being perceived as the “nice guy”. In other words: passive, soft, hesitant, and weak. I am fully aware of the perceptions, and I would not be truthful if I were to say the perceptions didn’t irritate me and cause some second-guessing of my work skills.

However, you might find it interesting to know that perception does not necessarily align with reality. The reality is that amongst management, I am one of few with the most corrective actions, and unfortunately, I have had to separate a colleague from the company. This belies the perception of being a pushover, as theoretically I should not be able to address difficult colleagues or situations. Trust me as I tell you that my initial years being a supervisor were wrought with challenges that I never envisioned – it was insanity. Nevertheless, I was able to navigate the most problematic circumstances and colleagues, yet the perception of being a nice guy remained unchanged. How?

The label bothers me, regardless of the facts, and I even contemplate adopting a harder edge from time to time. I eventually regain my senses and dispel the silly idea. I cannot betray my character and integrity. And I suppose that it is a testimony to my leadership style that I have been able to deliver some unsavory actions, yet my name and reputation remain unsullied. I’ll probably continue to struggle with the nice guy moniker, going back and forth within myself in search of an imaginary solution. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in the same boat as me, here are a few tips to help you navigate rough waters and stay true to yourself.

5 Effective Leadership Approaches For a Nice Guy

  • A leader should never demean, disparage, or defame fellow colleagues. Good morale in the work environment is essential to the overall health and productivity of a business. If a leader is contributing to poor morale and a toxic work environment; that is definitely an issue. I ensure that treat every colleague with decency and dignity – even when delivering hard truths regarding work performance or behavior.
  • A leader must ensure that his or her management style is guided by company policies and regulations. I am confident in my decision-making because it is supported by company protocol. I make sure I am familiar with pertinent documentation offered up by human resources, and I seek clarity when it is necessary. Any accusations of shenanigans on my behalf will be hard to prove because I adhere strictly to company guidelines. Yes, I’m a square. But I don’t play favorites, as I am fair and just across the board.
  • A leader must be transparent. I will never ambush a colleague. If there are foreseeable issues on the horizon, I try my best to speak with a colleague to avoid any corrective actions. Confrontation makes me uneasy, so I attempt to avoid it. I am always honest with colleagues. I do not tell them what they want to hear. I tell them what they need to hear – no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.
  • Leaders must demonstrate follow through on their word. Declarations of punitive measures without the proper consequences are meaningless. No one will ever take you seriously because colleagues will conclude that you never enforce warnings. Trust, I still get butterflies in my stomach, but I cast away whatever emotional responses I have toward the situation, and address the issue (not the person) directly per company policy. Before a serious conversation, it is not unlike me to script out talking points the day before so I can stick to the subject and never stray off the designated topic. I maintain an even, measured tone and I keep the conversation streamlined to the subject at hand.
  • A leader must be willing to help their fellow colleagues. I am a strong believer in the growth and development of their careers. It is not unusual for me to undertake the task of performing a corrective action, yet later assist that same colleague with a resume or interview preparation. I believe everyone should be treated justly and fairly regardless of previous work indiscretions.

The Standard #52

If I have gleaned any knowledge working within the confines of the corporate world, it would definitely be understanding the necessity of having a strong network in my selected area of employment. Undoubtedly naive, my entry into the corporate environment commenced with an incorrect belief; a trust that hard work alone would translate to acknowledgment and then advancement. I was seriously mistaken. The knowledge and work performance a gentleman wields within the workplace are just as important as the individuals a gentleman knows within the workplace. To be certain, deftly weaving a tight tapestry of professional connections can help progress a gentleman’s career and provide outlets to a myriad of opportunities that may nurture both professional and personal growth. I am quiet by nature, but being locked down in my cubicle studiously working under the radar was not doing me any favors. To provide my career with a much-needed injection of significant development, I needed a great deal more than labor alone.

Now, I can credit 4 colleagues – all in management – that encouraged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and seriously consider advancing my career within the company. The first step was discovering my voice, volunteering for projects, and increasing my visibility within supply chain management. As I stated before, I am a natural introvert, so communicating my thoughts aloud to other individuals was challenging. Nevertheless, the more I spoke in open forums and collaborated with other people, I began to feel more at ease with being more vocal. If you want to advance your career in a meaningful fashion, I strongly encourage the exercise of extending yourself beyond your comfort level. A gentleman should identify individuals that will readily exchange valuable skills & insight, embrace stretch assignments, and actively collaborate with persons he wouldn’t necessarily engage with normally. Think of it as a human portfolio that boasts an intellectual diversification suited for professional and personal growth. Success is not procured within a vacuum, it is nurtured within an environment of varied thought, experience, and learned guidance.

Someone you know needs to read this, so share if you care. Empower and encourage someone today.

The Standard #49

 

The professional gentleman understands that success within the workplace is owed not only to an impeccable work ethic, but also to an even-keeled temperament that marries well with fellow colleagues. A colleague that contributes nothing more than a negative disposition and unpleasant attitude can corrupt the morale and atmosphere within the workplace. Now, if you count yourself among the working class community, you understand that a sizable portion of your day is shared with your coworkers, most likely comparable to time shared with your family. Therefore, it would be in the best interest of everyone to make the work environment friendly and collaborative. Trust, no one wants to share close quarters and interact with a malcontent throughout the weekday.

Negative energy is an exhaustive drain on the team, and productivity can be impacted due to time exhausted dealing with said negative energy. The professional gentleman understands that his communication requires active listening, disagreements are treated with civility, and criticism is not offered absent constructive alternatives or meaningful feedback. Employing these methods can surely help foster a positive work environment that leads to better attitudes, willful collaboration, and substantive ideas. You will definitely be the colleague that coworkers enjoy working with and management wants to promote.

Listen Up, I Have a Story to Tell – How to Create a Winning Narrative for a Job Interview

To be absolutely certain, the most prolific hip hop artists in history display the innate ability to tell vivid stories – the art of storytelling as many call it. The Notorious B.I.G. Nas. Scarface. These artists were able to lyrically weave a tapestry of detail throughout tracks that transported the listener directly into the song. Undoubtedly, the experience leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s memory. Effectively describing the most minute facets and capturing the emotion of a situation; artful storytelling is a powerful tool that engenders engagement. That being stated, communicating an engaging story is not only a useful device in songwriting, it can also elevate a job interview above a fellow job seeker. When I have sought job opportunities, my interview style is conversational, detailed, and personal. I want the interviewer fully invested in my answers and my narrative.

And that is exactly what a candidate should be constructing – a compelling narrative; something not easily forgotten. Now, I cannot assign a hard number to the amount of job interviews that I have conducted or been involved in, but well into the hundreds is not unlikely. I have noted, over the course of many years and varying interviews, there are two distinct areas in an individual’s interview that tend to be flawed: the interviewer’s questions are not directly answered and the level of detail is severely lacking. The result is a bland, underwhelming experience that renders the interview forgettable, or alternatively, memorable due to the overall awful performance. Today, I want to offer some simple advice that may prove to be helpful while improving how you execute your interview.

6 Essential Tips for a Winning Interview

  • Without a doubt, the daily grind of employment will grant the gentleman a wealth of material for proper utilization during an interview. It is this information gathering that will lay the foundation for your interview preparedness. The gentleman would be wise to document specific work events that highlight teamwork, effective communication, critical thinking, and leadership. Microsoft OneNote is an excellent choice of software to gather and store this type of pertinent information. A manila folder, an electronic folder on your desktop, or Word document – whatever your choice for information tracking; ensure you are saving your notes.
  • Now that you have gathered all relevant information that demonstrates why you deserve the position, it is time for the next step in your job preparedness. A gentleman must now organize his thoughts, commit those selected work events to memory, and practice his delivery to an audience. I am a strong proponent of employing the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This technique allows the job candidate to provide structure to thoughts and articulate them in an organized fashion. Responding to an interview question that is intended to assess job viability; the candidate will first describe the situation at hand, what task or objective was proper for the situation, the action that taken to achieve the objective, and the concluding result. Bonus: A candidate can add another R for reflection, which basically captures what the candidate learned and how they matured professionally from the experience.
  • The job candidate must ensure that the emotion of the situation is addressed and articulated. Now, keep in mind, this is not the time to be overly dramatic and theatrical. Your heart doesn’t have to race faster than a cheetah across the African wilderness hunting prey. Rather, it was a tense situation and you were slightly anxious as you addressed the pressing issue. A candidate should clearly represent the stakes at hand so the gravity of the situation is completely understood.
  • As a candidate is describing a certain event in detail, it is paramount that the story contains specifics. Be sure to take advantage of adjectives and proper nouns. Again, please note, now is not the time to break out the thesaurus. However, the addition of a few small details can allow one candidate to shine brighter than another. Please see example below and note the differences.
      1. One night, I had to place an overnight order right before cut-off time for delivery. There were a lot of items on the purchase order that I had to place, but I was able to successfully get the order in with the vendor.
      2. One late evening, approximately 30 minutes before Medtronic’s cut-off time for shipping, I had to place an order for 100 items for overnight delivery. Given the large amount of items that had to be ordered, I asked the customer service representative if I could fax or e-mail the order to the vendor. Unfortunately, the order could only be placed verbally over the phone. That news was a little disappointing and stressing, but it had to get done. Therefore, I had to place the order accurately and efficiently with the CS rep to beat the cut-off time. So, item by item, I read off the manufacturer number to the CS rep and in turn she read it back for confirmation. To save time, she would only notify me of any back-ordered items after the order was loaded into the system. In the end, we were able to get all but 5 items placed for overnight delivery, and I notified the hospital regarding the 5 items on back-order with their release date. I also provided their sales representative’s contact information for a follow-up if a substitute item was required.
    • A candidate should ask thoughtful questions. Yes – salary, benefits, and shift are all credible inquiries. However, a candidate with a genuine interest regarding a position should ask questions that put the interviewers back on their heels. What challenges are they facing as a department or company? Do they promote a culture that rewards and retains its quality employees? Do they promote growth and development within the workforce? Of course, your questions will be tailored to suit your company of choice. For example, I applied for a position a few years ago, and I posed a question somewhat like this: With the Affordable Care Act reducing the rates of reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid; how aggressive are your standardization projects for med. surg. products to help offset that potential monetary loss for the organization? I did my due diligence researching the position I wanted. Serious, thoughtful questions illustrate an honest curiosity that will surely garner respect and appreciation.
    • As a job candidate, it is vitally important that you provide a brief summation of your qualifications and attributes as a future employee. You must present yourself as an asset that adds value to the company. This is your closing statement. At this point, the company’s mission statement and vision should be intimately familiar. Definitely, you should fully understand the role and responsibilities of the open position being sought after. Now it is time to deftly connect your best qualities to those areas and confidently argue why you are the best candidate. I highly suggest identifying 4-5 adjectives that best describe you professionally. Be thoughtful, sincere, and open. Remember: Craft an engaging narrative that answers questions directly while displaying critical thinking and showcasing your best traits.

Well, there you have it; just a few key pointers that I have extracted from experience over the years. I hope the information will be beneficial to job seekers reading this post. Good luck!

Gent Hints – Interviewing for an Internal Position

My current home of employment is quite unique. The opportunity for growth and advancement is wonderfully plentiful. Management offers a fantastic support system to aid and assist with an individual’s learning and development. However, the opportunity for advancement is not absent its share of challenge and adversity; wrought with anxiety and apprehension. The arduous road to career advancement can wind through a series of internal interviews that sometimes result in reward, and other circumstances with disappointment. Often, but not entirely, the outcome is predicated by the preparation and performance of the candidate. Interviewing for an internal position can present a myriad of unaccounted for pitfalls that a candidate fails to properly address.

My position in management has afforded me the opportunity to interview a robust quantity of candidates – both internally and externally. The knowledge that I have gleaned from my experiences has allowed for not only personal, professional growth; but I can confidently dispense guidance to candidates seeking career advancement. Today, I wanted to extend a small offering of wisdom to those individuals that hold a desire to advance within their present employer and must navigate the interview process to accomplish that objective. So, let’s explore what a candidate should and should not do when interviewing for an internal position at their job.

Do’s and Don’ts When Interviewing for an Internal Position

  1. Don’t arrive at the interview too relaxed. Sometimes a candidate can become a victim of comfort and familiarity. A candidate may enter an interview composed of peers or coworkers. Being haphazardly at ease with one’s surroundings can possibly dull a candidate’s sharpness and awareness. A candidate should be cognizant of body language and communication – keep it decidedly professional and formal.
  2. Do Approach an internal interview as if you were an external candidate, but bolstered insider knowledge. Dress professionally for the interview. Bring a resume. And don’t take for granted that the interviewer has predetermined knowledge of how you perform at work – now is the time to sell yourself and highlight noteworthy achievements along with championing your work ethic.
  3. Do the necessary research before applying for the position. A candidate that lacks basic knowledge of the desired position reflects very poorly on the candidate’s interview preparation. Network with colleagues that are currently in that department or on the team. Scheduling an appointment with the hiring manager prior to the interview can provide crucial insight and detail of tremendous benefit.
  4. Don’t torch professional bridges in the office. In the circumstance that you are striving to advance internally, your reputation can certainly travel with you as you apply for positions. Trust – managers speak with other managers. External candidates can be an unknown commodity. However, in the case of an internal candidate, expect the hiring manager to do a little research on their potential new hire.
  5. Don’t end the interview with a wave and goodbye. A prepared candidate should always ask meaningful questions regarding job expectations, challenges that the candidate may face, challenges currently faced by the team/department/company, opportunity for growth & development, and  – well you get the idea. Salary, benefits, and shift assignment are all valid questions to ask, but a candidate should arrive armed with inquiries that project depth and thoughtfulness.
  6. Do express gratitude after the interview. Some people may label this act as a dated practice, but a handwritten thank you note can be the finishing touch that separates two candidates that are running neck & neck for a position. Be aware of certain points during the interview that resonate with the interviewer or panel; craft your thank you card accordingly and take that moment to briefly pitch yourself as an asset, express enthusiasm for position, and offer gratitude for the time & consideration you’ve been granted.

This blog is about sharing knowledge. And I am certain the points above is not an exhaustive list of what to do and not to do. Therefore, please feel free to lend some advice in the comment section. I am sure someone will readily welcome a pointer or two or three.

%d bloggers like this: