“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
When all that matters are numbers, eventually, people don’t matter. Great leaders consistently focus on people and performance. Be tough on results, gentle on people.
Set high standards, and serve your people. Results will follow. Don’t give up. I’ve seen too many leaders give in, and lower their standards to “be nice,” or taking a “no more mister nice guy” approach when results don’t move quickly. Create the balance and stay the course.
Tough on Results
Tough goals lead to breakthrough change. Tight standards lead to exceptional performance. Scary projects cause growth. Straight talk paves the road to improvement.
Winners want to improve and win. Allowing people to under achieve is mean. Serve through challenge. Energize through stretch.
- Set aggressive targets
- Maintain high standards of behavior
- Demand quality and excellence
- Hold people accountable
- Require engagement
- Talk straight about opportunities
- Require great leadership
Gentle on People
Scaffold growth. Inspire confidence. Take time to teach. Protect and defend. Shield the team from chaos.
- Speak kindly
- Offer support
- Listen to concerns
- Develop necessary skills
- Celebrate behaviors
- Allow mistakes
- Reward teamwork
The balance leads to tricky situations. Poor performers who don’t improve, will need to go. Remain compassionate and help them find a better fit. High-performers who are mean to others, can’t stay either. Real leaders balance tough with gentle, and teach others through their actions.
This is a continuation of the LGL REAL (Results, Energy, Authenticity, and Learning) Leadership Series. Starting with “Results.” To have the discussion delivered directly to you, please enter your email to subscribe.