One of the members of the Linkedin CFO Careers group posted an article by Harvard Business Review on always being kind, but not always being nice to your employees. What good insights! And sometimes, it is very difficult to choose to be kind when what you really want is to not be nice. What an exceptional leader you are, though, when you choose to respond with kindness in the most vexing and stressful situations.
Reading the article made me think of the wonderful Seth Godin book, “Tribes.” Having people follow (work for) you because you’re the means to the paycheck is far different than people following you because you are a great leader and they want to be close in order to learn, to grow, and to emulate.
Ultimately, it’s not a choice between kindness and greatness. It’s a choice between creating or forgoing context. You have to create and maintain a context in which people are expected to rise and want to rise to be their absolute best—where you have people’s express permission to push them beyond their comfort zones.
There has never been a better, or more challenging, time to be the Finance Leader of an organization. Having cohesive, motivated teams that want to exceed corporate objectives makes the job much easier than having to push and coax a lazy, unmotivated group of people who have to perform to the minimum degree necessary in order to collect a paycheck.
Do people follow you? If so, why? It’s definitely food for thought for all Chief Financial Officers and those who desire to step into that role in the future. It is one of those soft skills – leading vs. managing – that can truly differentiate you from the competition.