How Do I Manage Effectively Without Being a Tyrant?

I've always been kind, generous and compassionate with my staff but within the last month or so, I have not felt so wonderful. I certainly don't mistreat them, but I do challenge them. I am somewhat demanding and feel the urge to yell at times. (I don't yell, but I really want to.) The big thing is that I now say what is on my mind. Nevertheless, I feel like I am evolving into someone or something else, where I am starting to get on my own nerves. 

No one has mentioned the change but I have started to see and feel it. The problem is, and I am very embarrassed to admit it, is that some part of me likes the new me. How do I find balance? I don't want to go overboard and become the HEAD OGRE FROM HELL. –Pamela 

Managing people is about making choices.

First, ask yourself: What kind of leader do you want to be? It sounds like you want to be kind, generous and compassionate. Three great qualities. But it also sounds like you have goals for your company and want to see them accomplished. The good news is that being kind and generous is not mutually exclusive of being direct and motivating your staff to do great work.

Each day, every owner of a business (whether she consciously thinks about it or not) has a choice to make: At one end of the spectrum she can get through the day by looking at everything reactively and without context; which generally results in giving in to personal insecurities and managing by fear. At the other end of the spectrum she can be guided by a mission for the company which includes not just strategic goals for the business, but personal goals for how they want to lead; which is a very expansive and positive approach.

It’s not about balancing good (“generous and compassionate”) vs. bad (“ogre from hell”). It’s about recognizing that it’s absolutely possible to set high standards for your staff–and to apply them in a consistent, transparent, kind and supportive way.

Truly great leaders inspire and motivate their staff to help them achieve powerful goals. They explain where they want to take their company, challenge their team to help get them there, give honest and supportive feedback, hold people accountable, and are kind and patient all at the same time.

And who wouldn’t want to work for a leader like that? In return, your staff will reward you with greater loyalty (better retention, thus less time and money finding and training new talent), extra hard work (greater productivity), more innovative thinking (competitive advantage) the benefit of the doubt (they’ll forgive you when you make mistakes–and you will) and respect, which, at the end of the day, is what we all want.

Chris Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at

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