NextGen Know-How: Can a leader be kind and effective?

Honesty and respect lead to a successful organization and culture—avoiding confrontation does not.

by Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, CU Management

In a recent podcast episode, Katie Couric interviewed Bob Iger, executive chairman and former CEO of Disney. Couric remarked that Iger has a reputation in the business industry of being a nice guy. She asked him how he can be nice and also make the tough decisions that are required as a leader of a global company.

His reply was profound.

Iger said that he doesn’t think he is nice—rather, he is kind. Nice is avoiding confrontation and sometimes avoiding the truth. It’s telling people what they want to hear, even if it’s not honest. Being nice can get in the way of effective leadership.

Kindness is recognizing the human being in everybody—the person who you are firing or giving bad news to is still a good person. Iger said he tries to demonstrate fairness and empathy when delivering bad news.


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