Why Being Nice Makes You a Better Leader

Being nice doesn't mean you're weak. Find out more about treating your employees well and winning at the "lady boss" game.
Why Being Nice Makes You a Better Leader
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Free Book Preview: Unstoppable

Get a glimpse of how to overcome the mental and physical fatigue that is standing between you and your full potential.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP
Founder of JaboTV, Media Personality, Keynote Speaker and Consultant
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from ’s book Unfiltered: How to Be as Happy as You Look on Social Media. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

For far too long, being nice has been mistaken for being weak, and Fran Hauser, a startup investor and longtime media executive, is on a mission to change that.

There are plenty of women who believe being a bitch helped them succeed, but Fran says you don’t have to be a bitch (or a jerk) to be the boss. That’s why she wrote The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018): to challenge the notion that you cannot be both kind and successful.

“In reality, niceness is an essential quality of for the world we’re living in. It’s a superpower that can unlock all sorts of potential and possibility we’re currently missing,” Fran says. “There’s actually something very wrong when kindness isn’t part of the picture when it comes to our leaders. When kindness isn’t modeled and celebrated, we find ourselves in a workplace environment that is, at worst, toxic, and at its best, fails to allow us to reach our full potential and share the best of ourselves with others. And people are clamoring for a better, more human, nicer style of leadership.”

If you’re a boss, Fran suggests taking the lead on creating an environment rooted in respect, trust, and kindness. Below are Fran’s five ways you can be nicer and stronger  -- and get better results -- in your role as a leader.

1. Speak up.

By hiding behind a facade of agreeableness, Fran says you’re hijacking your own effectiveness and not leaving a great impression of your strength and value. “It’s OK to push back if you do it respectfully. The key to disagreeing respectfully is staying positive -- don’t just say it’s a bad idea. Instead, suggest a better solution and your reasoning behind it. Also, demon­strate that you invested the time to understand the other per­son’s point of view -- this is usually a good way to defuse the situation.”

2. Give .

When you build a strong relationship with your team and care deeply about them and their careers, it can be a struggle to give tough feedback. But Fran says avoiding delivering negative feedback can make you seem like a push­over and, frankly, a bad mentor or boss. “You’re also doing a disservice to the employee who would benefit from construc­tive (‘constructive’ being the key),” she adds. “Give feedback that’s nice and direct by presenting the information in an empathetic and supportive way. Position it as helpful advice rather than harsh critique.” Fran suggests starting on a positive note about the person’s performance -- something that is true and meaningful, and that doesn’t feel like a throwaway. For example: I’m really impressed with how thor­ough your analysis has been. Then move on to the “issue.” Say: I want to be helpful and better understand what’s driving the problem (e.g., missed deadlines). Fran says don’t get personal: Focus on the facts. Give specific examples and paint a broader context. For example: Sloppy financial reports can give people a lack of con­fidence in your numbers. “Ask questions and make it a dialogue, not a one-sided lecture. When you leverage your kindness to give feedback empathetically, the conversations become more pleasant and effective for everyone involved.”

3. Negotiate.

Fran says you should never be afraid to ask for what you deserve. “Use your relational skills to negotiate strategically in a way that’s good for you and the company,” she advises. “Focus on the company’s goals and the true value you add to the instead of all the reasons you feel you want a higher salary. Data talks -- gather as much as possible to use as backup. This can be data about your accomplishments or salary data from peers at other companies. Sometimes the value you’ve added is not tied to a specific project but that you’ve created a for your team that has resulted in improved morale and retention.”

4. Network.

“Career success is increasingly defined not just by how many hours you spend at your computer but also your ability to connect to others, to incorporate outside perspec­tives, and to navigate groups. These are essential skills in today’s ultraconnected world because no one and nothing exists in a vacuum. This means connecting the dots between ideas, businesses, and people. As a kind woman, you have an advantage here as long as you get away from your desk because a lot of this connection requires the very people skills that you have spent a lifetime developing,” Fran says. If you aren’t investing in yourself and networking, she adds, you won’t acquire the experiences and insights that will lead to connect­ing the dots.

5. Make decisions.

As a leader, you need to be able to make decisions that might upset others. “Yes, it’s essential to think everything through from multiple perspectives and get and advice from colleagues, but at the end of the day, a leader has to be able to stand in her own shoes, make a clear decision, and then own the results of that decision,” Fran says. “Once you make the decision, thank everyone you’ve consulted for his or her input. Acknowledge that your decision isn’t going to make everyone happy, but express that you feel strongly that it’s the right direction. It’s better to make a decision swiftly to avoid being perceived as wishy-washy and so you can all move forward.”

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors are here to help you throughout the entire process of building your franchise organization!
  1. Schedule a FREE one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Choose one of our programs that matches your needs, budget, and timeline
  3. Launch your new franchise organization
Use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21 to save on 12 marketing books for entrepreneurs that are recommended by entrepreneurs:
  • Digital Marketing Handbook
  • No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing
  • Ultimate Guide to Youtube for Business
  • And more
Try a risk-free trial of Entrepreneur’s BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan for 60 days:
  • Get step-by-step guidance for writing your plan
  • Gain inspiration from 500+ sample plans
  • Utilize business and legal templates
  • And much more

Latest on Entrepreneur