If I had a dollar for every time I admonished my kids as they were growing up, be nice, I would be a very rich man today. But I did it without being paid because I knew being nice did pay in many nonmonetary, but more important, ways.
Forrest Lucas launched Lucas Oil Products in 1989. The company now sells almost 200 products in 27 countries. In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, Lucas made a telling observation about leadership (Eng, Dinah. How I Got Started: The Making of an Oil Empire. February 27, 2012, pp. 23-27). He was reflecting on his observations of many different people in high-level positions. In so doing, he was watching for common traits.
All the guys who made it to the top were nice people. So its part of my philosophy to be nice. I dont have a single rude person working for me (p. 24).
Lucas so believes in this philosophy, he simply wont have a person in his employ that is rude. I resonate strongly with Lucas. I have always observed the best leaders make you want to follow them just based on how they treat you.
Obviously, being nice doesnt mean we dont hold our direct reports accountable. Being nice doesnt mean we dont make tough decisions when necessary. Being nice does mean we treat each other with respect and dignity regardless of the situation.
I once knew a department manager who had to fire an employee. He did it with such dignity and respect that the departing employee was practically thanking the manager for firing him. Thats what being nice can accomplish.
Remember the old saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar? We need some of those old sayings today more than ever.
Being nice still works.
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