Leaders often take one of two approaches: “Drivers” are good at establishing high standards, keeping people focused on goals, and continually improving. “Enhancers,” by contrast, act as role models, giving honest feedback in a helpful way, developing people, and maintaining trust. Neither approach on its own is sufficient to increase employee engagement. Instead, think in terms of “and” instead of “or.” You can demand a great deal from employees, but also be seen as considerate, trusting, and collaborative.
If you consider yourself a driver, don’t be afraid to be the “nice guy” sometimes. For example, when setting a challenging target, acknowledge just how hard it might be on your team and offer to help if they need it. On the other hand, if you’re an enhancer, try setting demanding goals with your usual words of encouragement.
Both approaches need to be used with equal force to maximize engagement.
Adapted from “Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees Most?” by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.