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Being a nice person does not automatically mean you will be a good leader.

There are people in formal leadership positions who are really nice people, but horrible leaders. Being a nice person does not automatically qualify you to be a leader.

Putting someone in a formal leadership position just because they are a nice person and everyone really likes them, may be doing a disservice to them, the people they are supposed to lead, the organization and the people your organization serves. Do they have the skills and attributes to lead? Can they make the hard decisions? Can they have the difficult decisions? Are they willing to do what is right when it is not popular? Do they want to be in a formal leadership position or are they being pressured into it? Have you provided the training and mentoring to develop their leadership skills?

It is not that nice guys (and gals) finish last; it is that “being nice” is not enough. Great leaders are nice people who also possess the skills and attributes required to lead. They understand that leadership is not a popularity contest and that they will ruffle some feathers at times. They have high standards and expectations for themselves and those they lead, and they clearly communicate those standards. They care about and love the people they lead and as a result will hold everyone to the standards and expectations and have the courageous conversations when necessary. They are willing and able to make decisions. They understand that leading is a verb and take action.

While being a nice person does not automatically mean someone will be a good leader, being a certified asshole (as described by Stanford Professor Robert Sutton PhD in his book The No Asshole Rule) pretty much guarantees he or she will not be. They will be a boss, not a leader.

Being a nice person is a good start, it is just not enough.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey, and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning, and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at