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 it’s part of my philosophy to be nice.  I don’t have a single rude person working for me” (p. 24).

Lucas so believes in this philosophy, he simply won’t 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 doesn’t mean we don’t hold our direct reports accountable.  Being nice doesn’t mean we don’t 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.  That’s 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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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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