August 6, 2008
News & Opinion: Blog Hosted by: Tim Hiltabiddle, co-author of Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office
Without further ado, here's Tim...
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Why Write About Nice Guys?
A colleague recently asked me why I (along with my co-writers Russ Edelman and Chuck Manz) wrote the book Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office. We often choose to write about that which we wish to learn more about. That was certainly the case for me and this book.
I am a recovering 'nice guy' and have had numerous experiences in my career when my desire to be 'nice' and please others hindered my ability to achieve success in the business world, including times when my clients, co-workers, and vendors took advantage of my good nature. I've made great strides over the years to get beyond this tendency and have learned to be more assertive, stick up for myself, deal with conflict, set good boundaries, and take more risks.
So why write a book? It gave us a chance to consciously look at this problem - which we call Nice Guy Syndrome. We had a hunch, based upon experience, observation, and discussions with colleagues, that it's extremely prevalent in the workplace but not well understood or even acknowledged.
Our research proved our hunch was right - Nice Guy Syndrome is a big problem in today's workplace. 61% of people we surveyed said that they struggle with being too nice at work, and that they feel it has a negative impact on their success.
We interviewed 20 CEOs from companies including Procter & Gamble, Dunkin' Brands and PricewaterhouseCoopers to get their insight on this issue. Virtually all of them concurred that over "niceness" is problem that they've observed many, many times and offered suggestions on how to overcome it. Many of them even admitted that they, too, had experienced Nice Guy Syndrome early in their careers.
We decided early on that we didn't want the book to be too theoretical or abstract. Instead, we wanted it grounded in real, day-to-day experiences to which readers could relate. So we collected dozens and dozens of stories from some our colleagues - experienced, talented, intelligent nice guys who could vividly recall instances when their tendency to be overly nice caused serious problems in their life at work.
Our interviews, research and real-life experience enabled us to develop dozens of specific, practical strategies that can help overly nice guys overcome Nice Guy Syndrome. I'll be discussing some of them in more detail in the next couple of days.
I'm curious to know if you have first-hand experience with Nice Guy Syndrome. Has the tendency to be too nice caused frustration at work and ultimately gotten in the way of your business success?
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.