If you are tolerating way too much from your people, maybe you are really nice—or maybe there’s something else going on. As described in previous posts, it is possible:
– You don’t want people to think you are bossy and you don’t think people like to be bossed around;
– You’re afraid of damaging the relationship or demotivating the employee so you don’t give developmental feedback;
– You’re so sympathetic and empathetic to the needs of individual employees that you—perhaps inadvertently—put them ahead of the needs of the team or the business;
– You have such a high value for fairness that you treat everyone the same way regardless of competence or skill level;
– You have such a high need for freedom that it blinds you to the fact that not everyone has the same needs;
– You’re simply incredibly patient and kind;
– Maybe you’re a wuss—defined by Dictionary.com as a weakling or wimp.
The first step to changing is awareness. I once had an employee tell me that I was a wuss because I was being blatantly taken advantage of by someone who was lying about a health situation. I had been giving the person the benefit of the doubt only to find out that I was, in fact, a complete patsy. Now I understand why HR requires managers to get doctors’ notes.
If this is you, you may already know it because people (your best friend, your spouse, your kids?) have told you.
Are you conflict averse? Training seminars with titles such as Challenging Conversations are available, as well as some wonderful books including Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud and The Coward’s Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight by Tim Ursiny.
Perhaps you have a core personal need to be well liked. This is certainly understandable, but if you feel this may be the case, just acknowledge it to yourself and make a concerted effort to get that need met at home and with friends rather than at work.
Ultimately, wuss behavior easily can become a habit and a default. Keep in mind that it is possible to be empathetic to others while still advocating for your own position. Half the battle is simply understanding this and giving yourself time and permission to do so.
About the author
Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard, and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.