Too often, we are placed in a situation that requires us to modify our reaction to a person. For example:
An associate on our staff who challenges our authority.
A client who is very late on their payment.
A peer who throws you under the bus in front of your boss.
We try to be professional, calm, cool, and collected — but sometimes we need to step out of our management comfort zone to react appropriately. Unfortunately, we don’t want to come off like a jerk. I’m here to help you.
There is a range of management personalities — I want you to stay away from the extremes. At one extreme of the range is a ‘Pushover’. We all know someone like that and unfortunately, no one wants to be one. On the other extreme of the range is a ‘Jerk’. We’ve all worked for one in our lives.
In the center of the range is the ‘Professional’. Someone who is direct and pleasant to work with. They’re fair and non-judgmental. We all try to maintain our proactive and reactive behavior in the center.
Then an errant associate, client, or peer tries to take advantage of your good nature. Many people let it happen because they “don’t want to come off like a Jerk”.
Then, don’t go there. There is an extreme amount of range in-between ‘Professional’ and ‘Jerk.’ In fact, many good managers will move a bit down on the range and let their ‘Stern’ behavior out and take the associate, client, or peer to task. That’s a normal business process — show them that you mean business.
Too often, we’re also afraid of being labeled a ‘Pushover’, so we guard ourselves and treat everyone with a ‘Stern’ manner. On the other end of the range is ‘Nice’ — being overly pleasant, accommodating, and motivating without veering off into ‘Pushover’-Land.
Bottom line, try to maintain your management style in the ‘Professional’ center with infrequent trips to ‘Nice’ and ‘Stern’ when the errant situation appears. I’ve seen the best leaders hover in ‘Professional’ and radiate out on the range when needed.
If you worry about coming off as a ‘Jerk’ to people, stop worrying. A Jerk never worries about that — they’re too busy being a Jerk.