Being Tough Isn't Enough

The whole issue of the finger-snapping knucklehead reminds me of a general pet peeve of mine: mean people.

I don't like them.

But some managers like being mean. In fact, there's a whole school of management thought that says the mean boss is the best boss, because he bosses his people to extreme. Those poor yelled-at souls are so afraid of screwing up, that they never let up. So they work harder. Again, out of fear.

I've seen bosses and anchors in my business who relish this approach. I don't. The best bosses I've known are not jerks.

People who delight in making people feel bad, aren't good people. I knew one CEO who bragged about liking to see "the fear in their eyes." I only wonder what was in "his" eyes when his board later dumped him and he had no friends to offer one word of support.

The simple moral of the story is be tough and demanding, but don't be mean and degrading. The best bosses I've ever known are those who've never forgotten what it was like to be a cog, before the corner office.

Some people tell me, nice guys finish last. I don't agree. I like to think I'm a pretty nice guy, and I've done reasonably OK. And so has my boss, another nice guy. And a few other pretty tough and demanding, but generally nice and giving bosses I've known, like Jack Welch (search) at G.E., or Lee Iacocca at Chrysler (search).

Yes, I'm biased. I'm for the guy who lifts me up and against the guy who delights in bringing me down.

It is not a sign of weakness to be so soft. It is sign of stupidity to be so hard.

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