When you hear the word “nice,” what immediately comes to mind: Pushover? Boring? Weak?
The new book, “The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) written by successful startup investor and media executive Fran Hauser, blows up the negative perception of “niceness” that many women struggle with in the workplace. That is, if you’re too nice, you’re a pushover — if you’re too assertive, you risk being labeled as a bitch.
Hauser argues that harnessing the power of niceness — being kind, authentic and collaborative — can actually propel you to new career heights. “You don’t have to choose between being kind and being strong,” Hauser says. “They’re not mutually exclusive. The most effective leaders lead with both.”
Hauser says her career has been supercharged because of her empathy. “It’s why people call me back, and it’s why people bend over backward for me,” she says, crediting her kindness as one of the reasons she’s been promoted ahead of more experienced candidates over the years.
Hauser had been kicking around the idea for the book for nearly a decade. Over the course of her career, the word “nice” seemed to stick to her, from performance reviews where bosses told her she was “too nice” and needed to “toughen-up” to incredulous questions from the young women she mentored who asked, “How can you be so nice?”
She consulted with other prominent female leaders and drew from personal experience to develop a modern playbook for the office. Here’s how she and other accomplished-and-kind women deal with common pitfalls without resorting to mean-girl tactics.