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Are You Too Nice as a Manager?

Are you too nice as a manager?

Are you tired of men telling you to “toughen up” and “be more authoritarian?”

Stay who you are, ladies. A new study shows that your management style – benevolent – may be better than any other.

You can read my full article on the topic on Medium: Leaders Who Demonstrate Empathy and Compassion Get Better Results.

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, collected data from 1,000 members of the Taiwan military as well as 200 corporate American workers. They  were looking to see which leadership style led to the best job performance: authoritarian (high focus on task completion, low focus on the well being of others), paternalistic (equal focus on task and well being) or benevolent (focus on well being first, then task completion) led to the best job performance.

The results? Across all cultures, both the paternalistic and benevolent leadership styles out performed the authoritarian leadership style. Those who put the well-being of their workers ahead of task completion or on equal footing with task completion achieved the best job performance.

People do care how they are treated at work. The old 1800s sweatshop style of leadership or the Meryl Street character in The Devil Wears Prada no longer produce effective results, if they ever did.

The leadership characteristics that achieve the best results in the workplace include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Effective goal-setting
  • High empathy, compassion, and concern for the well-being of others
  • Respect and fair treatment
  • Acknowledgement of jobs well done and guidance when jobs aren’t well done

This gets back to my emphasis on high EQ, or emotional intelligence, among leaders. I think we should be hiring managers and C-suite executives not just for the results they have achieved in past projects but also for a demonstrated history of high emotional intelligence: recognizing and responding appropriately to emotional cues and demonstrating empathy, respect, and support for coworkers.

With low unemployment rates, workers have their choices of employers. It pays to be a nice person when it comes to leadership styles.

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