Many leaders share this belief. They confuse the meaning of toughness and operate with the belief that effective leaders require being tough as nails to inspire respect. Their intimidating behavior tends to suppress their team members from expressing themselves freely and this, the leader than assumes as a sign of respect by the teams. What amazes me is that even if such leaders are decent people they tend to hide their true selves, projecting toughness and sending waves of fear through their teams. Such leaders like to be firm and distant from their people and them, unfortunately, believe that this keeps the teams on their toes and fear delivers the best results.
What does being strong, tough leader actually mean? Leaders need to be tough when the circumstances call for it. But does it mean that leaders need to give up being compassionate and kind and have their people cracking under pressure?
No matter what the circumstances, leaders need to be caring towards their teams. Kind and compassionate does not mean being soft. Kind leaders also can be frank and honest with their people. They build a relationship of trust. And this does not actually require a big effort; even small ways can show that they care. Some of the best leaders, I have known, have time and again demonstrated their compassion towards their people, have managed to deliver tough messages when required, focusing not just on the delivery of the message but the message itself. Their teams, in fact, have tremendous respect for them and easily accept the tough message.
Reminds me of an article written by the Business leader and blogger Jon Mertz describing kind leaders having an “iron fist in a velvet glove.”(http://randomactsofleadership.com/kindness-and-leadership/)
I remember in one particular instance, I had managed to bag a small deal for one of the companies that I worked with. I had done nothing out of the way. I knew that the sales team was struggling to get the customer signup for our services. Since the prospect was an acquaintance of mine, I decided to call him and convince him of the service and had therefore managed to add a client. This small act did not go unnoticed. The CEO of the company had very graciously left a small thank you note at my desk, the next day he walked into the office. This was his way to show he cared but it made a huge impact on me.
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.” – Jim Rohn
Above is also published on LinkedIn Pulse at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/being-kind-isnt-part-job-description-shubha-apte?trk=pulse_spock-articles