How to be the bad guy in your business
If businesses were full of only ‘nice guys’, they wouldn’t be very efficient or successful. You need to make difficult decisions in order for your business to progress. People need testing, disagreements need addressing, and any deadweight needs removing.
The qualities associated with success aren’t always the most likeable. Part of being a leader is making tough decisions. Chances are you’ll have to let people go, come up against employees who disagree with you, or deliver bad news. Employees are bound to resent you for some of the choices you make. But remember, you’re here to further a business, not to make friends.
Here are some tips to make your bad guy role a little bit easier.
Keep some perspective
It can be lonely having to make decisions that your colleagues disagree with. You can end up feeling excluded and it’s easy to internalise your actions and doubt yourself. This is why it’s important to remember this is your professional life, not your social one.
It can be helpful to remember why you’re doing this – to help your business succeed – and take comfort in that. Anyone in your same position would be forced to act in similar ways; it has no reflection on you as a person.
Accept that not everyone will like you
You’ll find holding a position of power will cause people to find reasons to dislike you. Whether you’re the nicest person on the planet or a rude narcissist, you’ll be disliked either way. Keep this in mind and stop wasting energy worrying about being liked. You’ll be fighting a losing battle. If anything, embrace the fact you’re above some of the office politics and able to focus on your work.
Being the bad guy will mean you have to make some difficult calls. Make sure you’re always consistent. The rules that exist for some must exist for everyone. You can’t fire someone for doing something and then let someone else get off with a warning.
This also means you need to be consistent with yourself. Just because you exercise the power doesn’t mean you’re exempt. You need to hold yourself accountable in the same ways as everyone else.
Balance the bad with the good
You only want to act the bad guy when it’s justified by the business’s needs, not because you find it entertaining to step on people’s toes or revel in the control. Being perceived as a bad guy by your employees isn’t a challenge to play up to the title.
You can make the difficult calls when they’re needed but still offer praise when it’s deserved. Because others perceive you as the bad guy, doesn’t mean you can’t be the good guy as well. The best leaders balance both. A way to reduce the bad is to make sure you have a strategic plan in place so you always know where you’re at. You won’t have to make tough choices out of circumstance if you give yourself time to plan and adjust to changes.
Every business needs a bad guy or two. It’s important there’s someone who knows when to discipline, take control, or let people go. Adopting this role won’t always reward you with popularity, so it’s important you keep a level-head and bear these tips in mind.