Some of the worst leaders I know are the nicest people.
They are cheerful, polite and friendly. They are “politically correct.” They are quite loyal to the people in their lives.
They tend to avoid conflict. They don’t ruffle too many feathers, and they rarely stick their nose out.
They are often thoughtful, the first with a kind word when someone needs one.
They are fun to be around. They don’t push too hard. For them, “good enough” is good enough.
They rarely stand out from the rest of us. In fact, they seem to want to be one of us more than anything else.
When I think of them, I’m often struck by how few quirks they have. No rough edges. Almost nothing irritating about them at all.
Indeed, they aren’t terribly memorable, except that they are nice.
As people, it is hard to find fault with some of the worst leaders I’ve know, except that they simply don’t lead.
I’m not disparaging nice people. We probably don’t have enough of them.
But the best leaders I know are impatient, or self-absorbed, or nit-pickers, or have some other personality “flaw.” They are demanding, or aggressive, or hard to please. They are obsessed, or impolite, or aloof.
No doubt they would cringe if someone described them as a “nice” person.
As a leadership coach, I work with leaders to improve their effectiveness. But I don’t attempt to make them “nice.”
I happen to believe that there aren’t any nice leaders.
After all, nice guys finish last, right?