Are You Nice Enough To Lead? New Book Challenges Old Beliefs.

Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office - by Russ Edelman
Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office - by Russ Edelman

Nice guys are in big demand: Every mother wants their daughter to marry one - every homeowner hopes their next door neighbor will be one and every time you interview for a new job – you hope the boss will be one of those “nice guys.”

But somehow, somewhere nice guys have gotten the bum rap.

Nice guys are perceived as wusses – unable to make tough decisions, the so-called corporate doormats – not the type of person you want running a division much less an entire company.

But maybe it’s time to start rethinking our beliefs about nice guys.

Russ Edelman, Timothy Hiltabiddle and Charles Manz believe nice guys may be the biggest untapped resource in business and are hoping to redefine our notion of the “Nice Guy”.

The trio has just written “NICE GUYS CAN GET THE CORNER OFFICE: Eight Strategies for Winning in Business Without Being a Jerk”.

The authors have put together a compelling results-oriented strategy to succeed while being nice! They say today’s leaders – and those who strive to be - owe it to their employees, their shareholders and themselves to be nice.

When Edelman and I recently sat down for lunch I told him I have a sick but great respect for the corporate jerks. In fact I told him one of the best jobs I ever had was working for a world-class jerk. He was a terror: early morning wake-up calls, late night screaming matches, vein-popping/spitting in my face/cursing threats – and those were the good days. Working for that jerk made me tough.

But Edelman says I’ve got it wrong, that a tyrant is as bad for a business as an overly nice guy. He defines a “nice guy” as someone who is strong, courageous, principled, ethical and authentic.

Employees stay with their “nice” bosses, they go the distance, they sing their praises, they revere and work hard for the nice guy in the corner office. Nice guys can put together great teams who can build great companies.

Included in the book are interviews with some legendary “nice guys” among them: Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Vanguard’s John Bogle, Jim Turley of Ernst & Young and Sam DiPiazza of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Being called a nice guy may not be your goal - but leading a successful team, building a successful company and having the respect of your employers and employees, well c’mon now isn’t that nice…isn’t that what we call success?

As for that poster child of a jerk I worked for – I left him and that company for something much better, something much nicer.

Questions, comments?