Have you ever asked yourself the difference between two similar words? In this case, as a leader of young people, what does it mean to be nice? What does it mean to be kind?
There are a lot of aphorisms as explanations.
In the kitchen, chefs always tell their sous chefs, make it nice or make it twice.
Our parents always tell us to be nice.
And yet, you have to be cruel to be kind.
What a confounding situation.
Niceness and kindness are both a matter of perception of another person, onto you. Differentiating between the two is a matter of your own ego strength. Can you tolerate that others may not like you in order to develop your employees and your business into what it can become?
How do you want to be perceived as the manager and leader of the business you run?
Think about one of the leaders in recent history that changed the world, Steve Jobs.
He was perceived by the outside as a visionary and was capable of legendary stage performances that would make the Royal Shakespeare Company sweat. According to his biography, he was also a terrible father. He was driven, pushed his employees, and changed the world. His character traits were an internal part of who he is, more on these later.
What is the message you are truly sending to your employees? Do you want them to think of you as nice or kind? Someone who agrees with them on an argument in order to avoid confrontation? Or do you want to be perceived as someone who can challenge them in a thoughtful and considerate nature?
Saving someone from a situation could be considered nice.
Providing someone with insight into their situation could be considered kind.
What type of leadership are you portraying in the workplace? And, assuredly, what type of workforce are you creating for the future of your business?
Millennial leaders are impressionable, even though they are driven by moral dilemmas of modern times in a challenging or even confrontational way. A kind leader is one that can utilize the challenges in a substrate, the underlying causes, and challenges in the work environment, to allow others to rise to the occasion. Kind leaders know their employees' strengths and weaknesses, when to push them and when to pump the brakes.
Nice leaders want to be loved in the office. Nice people want to be invited to all the parties. Do you really want to go to a millennial party? Maybe. But no.
Kind leaders see the strategy for the future and share it with their management team. They delegate and mentor those teams in order to reach the goals of the organization. They provide insight like stepping stones and hold their staff accountable for their tasks.
Nice leaders end every conversation with, ‘is that okay’ or ‘are you all right with that’?
Kind leaders enable their managers and teams to work as a collective and cross-pollinate ideas through leadership and fruitful conversation. They know how to direct traffic. Kindness has a backbone that is rooted in confidence and direction.
Nice leaders enable. Nice leaders are rooted outside of themselves, and thus have no soil to pull nutrients.
Kindness persists. Kind leaders take the pressure and form it in order to direct their employees out of their comfort zones.
Compare the concept of Nice vs Kind to author Stephen Covey’s Personality Ethic vs Character Ethic.
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about the difference between the personality ethic and a character ethic. A personality ethic is something that we hold on the external, outside of our bodies. It is something that people perceive. A character ethic is deeply contained.
A personality ethic can exude the idea of a character ethic. This comes across in behavior such as a leader who shakes hands firmly. This leader is likely to be perceived as confident or strong. Meanwhile, that same leader might be behind the scenes trying to figure out a dubious way to pilfer clients from his partner. Not a strong representation of a moral character.
A character ethic is the deep root of how we want to take care of others as people. It is our moral imperative for ourselves and one another. By challenging our employees, we are providing them with a better future, through proper training and consideration of their goals. This is the type of behavior a kind leader exhibits.
When you are challenged by the question, what does it mean to be kind versus what it means to be nice, ask yourself, which does the most amount of good for your business, to the most amount of people, for the most amount of time?
Until next time, may your kindness remain.
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