Do you love a boss who treat you kindly? Is this enough? This is a critical issue. We spend considerable time focusing on the importance of managers who can engage their people, stressing things like prioritization and availability – because the absence of these traits is so disengaging. But there is another aspect: the seemingly nicest, most kind and engaging boss may be toxic to an employee’s career http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/09/your_nice_boss_may_be_kill.html.
We’ve all seen examples of this. It’s exemplified by middle managers who make careers of being politically correct, never rocking the boat. They exhibit no courage and manage to stick around by moving work rather than creating value. They are super kind to their people, and why not. Who’s doing the real work while the manager is busy ducking challenges?
Here’s the problem. The way to be a rising star is to work for a star. Working for a dough boy reflects poorly on you. Great managers are kind, but they are also tough in a different sort of way, not by bullying their people but by challenging their team to achieve big outcomes that meaningfully help the business succeed. Yes, they need to do it in an engaging way and yes they need to be aware and sensitive to employees’ personal issues, workloads and unique styles. But they also need to lead high performing teams whose members are recognized for doing important things. There team members are the people who will be admired and who will advance to new opportunities, not those who work for spineless middle managers whose single strength is their kindness.
As Millennials come to dominate the workforce, this issue will become even more acute. These Gen Y employees are laser focused on opportunities to develop their abilities and make a meaningful contribution. Kindness alone won’t cut it for them. They just won’t hang around to have their careers damaged by kindly incompetents who should be sent out to pasture.