I am involved in an entrepreneurial and career/life development program that helps young adults live into their dreams in the most relevant ways. We have outside success lecturers come visit the class periodically, and the morsels of wisdom they offer are astounding.
A good friend who is a CEO of a hospital group was talking about what qualities make for success, and I was struck about a truth he offered:
“It’s easier to make a nice person smart than it is to make a smart person nice”. —-Rulon Stacey-
He said in his health care realm, if a person works hard, strives to make their day as productive as possible, and are NICE, they will always have a job. He also observed that while not impossible, someone who is mean spirited (not nice), has difficulty over coming that character trait. In other words, being nice and not nice are probably learned patterns from childhood; more a part of the nature of that soul, therefore being difficult to change.
Upon hearing this, my good friend Roger who is an old movie buff, recalled a movie called Elwood Dowd, and he is quoted for this famous line:
“Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”
I thought for a moment after this. There are those who try to lead through bombastic tactics; included often in their personality is fear, bullying, egotism, and a narcissistic nature. Following this type of leader is not by choice.
We also know leaders who are both nice and smart—a very winning combination. I feel sometimes the ones who think they are smart (and maybe they are), get a little proud and haughty. I’ve never had that luxury. Sometimes, folks who struggle with smarts can try to lead with fear or bullying to overshadow their stupidity.
One of the nicest people I ever met was a carpenter who was simply NICE. He wasn’t rich, though he was financially independent. He wasn’t well known, though those who knew Frank, knew they had a sincere friend in him. His genuine niceness made him a guy you wanted to be around, would do anything for, and wished the best for him.
In our quest to be effective leaders, putting all of the cool cultural pyramids aside, let’s focus on just being nice. It will win the day.