I’ve heard my mother say many times, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
I suppose that anyone with an ounce of niceness would agree. But a recent incident had me thinking about those famous words. What does it say about leadership?
It was just after the recent elections and two winning candidates were giving their acceptance speeches. One was very gracious to the person who had challenged them. They spoke highly and gave tremendous credit to their opponent. They were very kind in thought and words and did not say one bad word against the challenger, except to say it was time for a change.
The other’s acceptance was much more painful. It was accusatory and said that the resulting vote was an indictment of the other candidate’s opinions and actions. They fell just short of calling names, but the accusations inferred plenty. Their comments were polemic and divisive.
Both of these people are now in important positions, but one was nice and the other was not. The warm comments and congratulatory nature was heartwarming and felt genuine. The accusatory speech also seemed genuine, but was hateful and derisive.
Neither of these people are from the location where I vote. Both were from the same political party. One would make me glad to be associated with that party, the other would make me ashamed. But I would much rather give my support to a nice person than one that isn’t, regardless of party affiliations.
I think nice is a habit that comes from a series of previous choices to be nice. It develops and becomes the natural order of things. When we refer to a person as being nice, it is because their habits, built from their past choices, has led them in that direction. So their behavior reflects those nice things that they have thought and done.
To be a leader does not mean to be nice. You can be promoted, elected, etc. into the position; but great leaders know to be nice is more important than just being important.
Nice first, important someplace after that.