It’s good to have one strength, but great to have two.
Take Costco’s Craig Jelinek. According to Owler’s new 2017 CEO Likeability Survey, he is the most-liked CEO in America. By most accounts, he is a low-key guy who doesn’t even have a PR staff. In 2013, Bloomberg quoted him as explaining why he was in favor of raising the minimum wage, “I just think people need to make a living wage with health benefits...It also puts more money back into the economy and creates a healthier country. It’s really that simple.”
Jelinek focuses on the basics, doesn’t need to be the star of the show, and Costco continues to grow. Nothing wrong with that.
But not every leader is beloved or even liked - though you can get away with that if you get stuff done.
We all have colleagues who are, well, a bit prickly. They may lack tact, patience, or even basic manners. Their elbows may be awfully sharp. But if they deliver results, people generally manage to ignore the unpleasant stuff. After all, if you need a vendor to deliver, you probably don’t care if s/he is fun at parties; you want them to be reliable.
On the other side of the fence, charming people can sometimes get away with being somewhat less than highly productive. It’s human nature to cut some slack for individuals you really like.
The dead zone is where professionals who are both unpleasant and ineffective go to watch their careers wither away.
No one wants to be that guy - or that girl - but it’s all too easy for decent people to start sliding slowly towards the dead zone. All it takes is for you to become a bit tired, disgruntled, or disorganized. At first, you might only be slightly less pleasant and slightly less effective. But over the course of a few years, these negatives become more marked.
The trouble is that you are often the last person to notice. Here’s a case in point...
Dave Pottruck, who worked his way up to be CEO of Charles Schwab, once related how while he was climbing the ladder, in his mind he was working harder and smarter than others. Then one day in 1990 his boss - whom Pottruck thought worked even harder and smarter than he did - delivered a bruising performance appraisal. “(He) told me that none of my colleagues trusted me because they all believed I had my own agenda… (He said) I came in with ideas and showed them, but I didn’t invite others to discuss them. I didn’t say to others, by listening to them, that I respected and valued their counsel.”
Pottruck actually took these words to heart. His second marriage was ending at the time and he was seeing a therapist who taught him the value of collaboration. He kept his energy and drive but learned to work more collaboratively with others. (This anecdote is from the 2004 book Business Evolves, Leadership Endures.)
So remember the moral of the story: It’s good to have one strength, but great to have two.
David Nour is a keynote speaker, consultant, and advisor that helps companies (such as Hilton, ThyssenKrupp, Disney, KPMG and over 100 other marquee organizations) drive profitable growth through unique returns on their strategic relationships. Nour has pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off balance sheet asset any organizations possess, large and small, public and private. He is also the author of ten books translated into eight languages, including his new book, Co-Create: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic Collaboration (St. Martin’s Press, May 9, 2017).