When people describe me, they probably wouldn’t use the phrase “she’s a nice person”. And depending on their definition of nice, they’re probably right. Many people’s definition of nice is someone who will bend over backwards for others, a people pleaser, someone who won’t rock the boat.
That’s not me. I have strong boundaries. I am a compassionate truth teller. I will speak up even when it’s super uncomfortable. I will not be complicit in my own (or other’s) demise.
I may not be nice, but I care. A lot.
I care about people and their satisfaction with their lives. I care about processes and doing the right things the right way. I care about self-expression. I care about art. I care about self-actualization.
And when you lead a team, nice only gets you so far. Being nice may mean that you hesitate to confront performance issues. Being nice may mean that you don’t give your folks challenging work to do. Being nice may mean that you are overloaded because you refuse to delegate and you’re on the verge of burn-out.
Being nice in these ways is a disservice to your team. They don’t get the chance to develop their skills. They may not want to be part of a team where low performers are allowed to skate by without confrontation. They won’t be prepared when challenges come up and you’re not there to take care of them.
As a woman, there’s a social penalty for not being “nice”. We get judged harshly when we don’t smile and nod. But there’s another way. We can show the depth of our care. This is not cold, but practical and effective and supportive of people and organizational goals.
So I’m ok with not being considered “nice”. I’d rather be the person who cares.