Why Women Leaders Need to Stop Being Nice

Jul 31, 2023

In most cultures, there has been a prevalent teaching–whether direct or indirect–that women should always be nice. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should be mean or rude, but I am saying that, as female leaders, we need to stop being so nice. Immediately.

Why am I advocating for such a seemingly controversial shift in how women lead? Because we need to be expecting, and directly expressing to people, a different expectation, a higher level of personal responsibility. And frankly, holding others to that higher expectation often appears “mean”. So how do we actively hold people to a proper standard? What is the opposite of nice without being seen as witchy? Let’s talk about it.

“Nice doesn’t win the day. That nice compromises you as a leader, it compromises respect, and frankly, it compromises the growth and potential of your company.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Why direct women are considered mean
  • Our supposed job
  • Boomerang effect of being nice
  • Intentional kindness
  • What leadership actually is
  • Intimidating women
  • True love in leadership

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

  • LEAD FOR WOMEN: Registration is open (currently there is a waitlist). LEAD FOR WOMEN is THE curated Leadership Development, Training AND Advisement program for Elite Visionary Women seeking to upgrade their skills leading, managing, communicating with, and inspiring the people you pay to achieve results in your business.
  • Private Subscriber List: Sign up to get preview invitations at thevisionary.ceo/lead. (Opting to be added to the LEAD waitlist on this page will add you to the Private Subscriber List.)
  • The Moxy Sage: Join with a paid subscription to hear more about this topic and others. Kris shares more in depth content every week and hosts a private podcast. 
  • Hawaii Retreat with Kris: September 22-25, 2023. A few spots are still available. This retreat is open to all women. See all the details and register at krisplachy.com/hawaii. 
  • Get a FREE Month of Coaching on your Business Edit. Go to thevisionary.ceo/theedit to access everything and learn more.

Connect with Kris Plachy


Well, hi. Welcome to the Leadership Is Feminine Podcast. I'm Kris Plachy. I'm excited to be your host. I'm honored that you're here. Let's talk about today why you need to stop being nice. Immediately. You need to stop being nice. Let's go.

Let's do a little history lesson first, shall we? Let's just talk about being a woman and what we've learned as women through all of the socializing that we've had on the planet, and this is really true for most cultures. And this need for women to be nice is not just a you thing, it's not just a me thing, it's all of us thing.

And not only do does the world sort of expect women to be nice, it also expects that women expect women to be nice to each other. It's a rather interesting thing. I was coaching a client not long ago who was having some challenges with one of her team members, and she felt like they thought she wasn't nice enough, and I said, well, let's just be honest. Look at you. You're a middle-aged woman who's raised kids. You have a business, right? You're a good, nice person. Of course, people think you're gonna be nice. And then of course, when you don't fit that mold and you are direct and you say what's on your mind, and you ask for something better, and you hold a different expectation of people than they're used to, the swing that people go to is that you're mean. That you're aggressive, that you're a bitch.

And then as women, we just, that feels like the biggest insult we could ever have. We have to ask ourself why. Why does someone thinking you're not a nice person insult you? That's their thinking. Who cares? But I think it's really honestly rooted in very old generational wisdom, which is that women had a particular role in the world. Having a voice wasn't one of them.

Why is it that we herald certain women over the years just in the US history, right? It's the women who had the courage to stand up for, and advocate for, and do things that other people didn't. And that isn't to be dismissive of people who didn't. It's to say it was a rarity.

We have lived in a world that was designed to support monarchs and kings. We have lived in a world that was designed around caste systems, around a hierarchy, around there being a king, and everybody then, and then everybody then, and then everybody under them and any, right, all the way down to peasants and slaves.

What does this have to do with being nice? Well, it has everything to do with being nice. Because where have women traditionally been in this hierarchy? How did we get what we wanted? Right? We're either the good girl or we're the bitch. Yeah. Not a lot of room in between. So therefore, what we've learned generationally, and even if you don't believe me logically, love, that's not even the point.

The point is that we've learned through all this conditioning that we've all had in our lives that really our job is to make other people comfortable, is to support other people, is to take care of other people's needs, to be available to what other people need, especially men. And when we change that, we're not being nice. Nice is so much easier. If you could just be nice.

So now let's take- here we are in the world today with millions of women starting their own companies. Get it. But you know what happens when you start a company? You start making money. You have to hire people, and you know what's true about managing people? There are days that that is not gonna be nice. There are decisions that have to be made that will be unpopular. There are decisions that have to be made that will make you and other people uncomfortable. Nice doesn't win the day. In fact, nice compromises you as a leader. It compromises respect, and frankly, it compromises the growth and potential of your company. Nice is another way of saying I gave up what I wanted to be pleasant and please others.

When I say nice, I'm saying like, oh, it's fine. Don't worry. It's not a big deal. Oh yeah, no, I can come. Sure. Do you need help? Yes. No, don't worry about that. It's fine. Don't worry about it. It's not a big, it's okay. Oh, you look so lovely. All the while you're saying these words, you don't mean them. You're just trying to be nice. But lying to them in an attempt to be nice is not nice. And lying to yourself in attempt to be nice to others is not nice. There's a boomerang effect to nice because anything that is launched with a lie or a dishonesty is not gonna work out.

So what is the opposite of nice? I actually think it's not mean. I don't think that being mean is the opposite of nice. I actually think that the opposite, or close cousin opposite of nice, is kindness. I would so much rather somebody tell me that I am kind than nice, 'cause nice is shallow to me, kindness is intentional.

I'm gonna say what I need to say, but I'm going to do it with love. I'm going to do it with grace. I'm going to do it with intention. I'm not just gonna agree to go along to make you feel better and make it easy. I am going to say what I know needs to be said, what space I need to hold, what invitation I need to decline, what work I cannot accept, what conversation I'm not gonna be a part of, but I can do it with intention and I can do it with grace. I can do it with love. I don't have to be cruel.

Being cruel and mean to me are the same seats as nice. It's the cheap seats. It's the easy way out. And if you've assumed a responsibility of being a leadership role, then you have a responsibility to be modeling and also showing yourself how to hold space for what matters, how to hold space and honor your own expectations of yourself and others. But you can also do that kindly, you can get your point across.

You can say what needs to be said, and without patronizing, without diminishing, without being cruel, without overly agreeing, without tolerating, without indulging, ridiculousness. You can do it without both if you choose kindness. But kindness is the path of conscious awareness. It is intentional. When you find yourself being nice and you get mad at yourself later, 'cause you were, it's because you were unintentional, you were reacting out of a desire to not rock the boat, not feel uncomfortable, not have to be the one who says no.

And when you act out of meanness, cruelty, dismissiveness, patronizing, you're pretty much doing the same thing. You're just saying, "I'm gonna work harder to not feel anything and I'll make you feel bad and I don't care." We tend to swing from one way or the other, because kindness requires presence and it requires holding the conversation and saying to someone, "I really appreciate the effort you put in here. This is not what I was hoping we would have. This is not the outcome I was expecting. I'd like to talk through what we could get done here. Let's take a minute and talk about it."

Versus, "This is terrible. What is this?" Versus, "Oh, it's fine, not a problem." And then working for three hours and finishing it yourself. Kindness is honest, but it's intentional and it demonstrates emotional maturity, which at the end of the day as a leader, right?

Leadership is not a title. Leadership is not a role. It's not even a position. It's a collection of behaviors. And what we know is happening is that that collection of behaviors that we expect of leaders has morphed over the years. But all of what we have learned to expect from leaders, we have learned from men, up until very recently, when in fact mothers have been leading families for centuries.

So what we see in the world as strong and capable and powerful is not out of our feminine skillset, our feminine principles. It's born out of masculine leadership models. Which is why you may feel so uncomfortable when you have to demonstrate behaviors of a leader, because they are not authentic to you. That's why nice is such a great fallback. "Well, at least if they like me and they think I'm nice, they'll, maybe they'll do what I want."

I learned a long time ago that I apparently can be intimidating. Anybody else heard that before? "Oh, yeah. She's really intimidating." And I used to be so offended because like, how can I be intimidating? Have you met me? I don't understand. But then I finally realized like, oh wait, you being intimidated by me has nothing to do with me. You being intimidated by me has everything to do with what you make me mean in your brain. Because I knew there were women, I was intimidated around.

And when I was honest with myself about why I was intimidated around them, It was because I saw in them qualities that I wanted to develop in myself, and as soon as I shifted that, it made me realize that I cannot shrink to accommodate their discomfort. Because by doing so, I actually minimize the very thing I think that they want to become.

One of the women that I was intimidated by was one of my greatest mentors. I would've never wanted her to dimm her light for me to make me comfortable. She stretched me by being kind, not nice, kind, genuine, authentic, present. It's the greatest gift you can give someone is your attention. Blowing it off in the wind of nice is not love. It's not honoring people.

You know when someone's being nice to you, tell me you don't. It feels fake and shallow and empty. But if someone sits with you and says, "You know, I listened to you yesterday and you've made some really great points, and I also have some thoughts about what you said, and I'd love to talk to you about them. Not because I'm trying to stroke my own ego or make myself feel comfortable, right? But because I care about you and I'm intentional with you."

That is what we are aching for in the world, y'all. I said that leadership behaviors morph over the centuries, over the decades, over the generations, and we are in it right now. All you have to do is open up a news report and look at how many people are on strike. How many people are disengaged? How many people hate their company? How many people hate their job? We have a real problem that women can solve.

People don't feel seen, appreciated, loved, respected. And so when that falls away, when they don't have that, they grasp at the one thing that matters to the people they work for, which is money. So if you're not gonna pay attention to me, and the way that the world is today, and the way that we have to operate today to accommodate the life that people are living, then I'll come after you for your money. That's how it works.

And that's why it keeps being the thing that all of us are talking about when really, really, sure we gotta pay people well, but we have to start to learn how to operate in kindness. Stop being nice. Stop worrying if they don't like you. Stop worrying if they'll think you're a bitch. Just stop.

And then let's not swing all the way over to resenting them. Being furious with them, being mad at them, taking work away because they can't get it right, like, we've got to find the center. And women, I know you are built for this. We are the connectors. We are the collaborators. We have empathy. We understand and read the room right when we walk in.

You are the asset for yourself, but you are the asset that this world needs right now. We need your voice more than ever. We don't need it hiding under nice platitudes. We need it standing in confidence and grace. And I know that's hard. Listen, I've been working at this my whole life and I've been teaching it my whole adult life, and that is honestly why I'm beyond excited to introduce the Lead program to you guys. So my hope is you will join me.

We're gonna be doing some really incredible preview invitations. So if you're not on the private subscriber list, please get on it. Just go to thevisionary.ceo/lead. And add your name, but I also wanna make sure you know a couple things. Because I practice what I preach, and it isn't enough for me to give you info that feels hollow to me.

I know that the adult learning model says that you have to apply what I teach you to what you already know. And then you have to take that, and you have to reflect on it, and you have to think about it. And then you have to take that, and then you have to have, develop your own hypothesis for how what we talk about what makes sense in your world. And then you have to take that and you have to test it. That is how you ultimately will move things forward.

And what I like to believe is that what we do in the work that I do is, sure we give you tactics and some tools and things like that, but mostly what we do love is we reconnect you back to a wisdom that I know that you know, that you have smooshed and hidden from because the world has told you what's wrong.

I spend the majority of my time with my clients coaching them and advising them and mentoring them through the process of believing themselves what they already know is true, that they've talked themselves out of. You are not alone. That is a collective issue that we have to start to stop, and that's scary. So that's why we produced all new curriculum. Nothing out of How To CEO is in here. All new curriculum. 12 weeks of advisory support, live calls.

And we're gonna be offering three different kinds of calls. One call for women who are at seven and eight figures. One call for women who are under seven figures. And one call - I have not done this ever - for executive leaders, women. Why do we break them up? Because you have very unique needs and dynamic challenges going on in each of your respective businesses. If you're running a seven or eight figure business, your challenges are different than the executive woman leading a team of 200 people.

Is there similarity and that's why you can share curriculum? Yes. But when it comes to advising and coachin you, we have to break it apart because your circumstances are so different. If you're under seven figures, if you're at 400K, 600K, those all have different phases of growth. And I want to support you, and I want you to be on a call with other women who are in the same circumstance as you. Because you triple, quadruple, 50-tupple your learning when you can hear all these other women in a similar business environment, as a leader.

I think that this time that you're here and this work that you're here to do is less about you learning new stuff and more about you tapping into essential wisdom. Because what's so fun to watch my clients, how they just turn everything we teach them, they turn it into their own thing. It's so divine to me. It's like heaven to watch it because once it's yours, it's yours, right? You really possess this process.

But what we have to do is give you back your confidence. We have to help you find it. We have to help you find who you want to be as a leader. How do you wanna speak? How do you wanna connect? How do you wanna make decisions? How do you wanna assign work? How do you wanna check in if it's not done? How do you wanna let people go? How do you wanna invite people in? This is up to you, and there's no cookie cutter here, but the elements of leading are the same regardless of where you sit, especially with women.

So stop being nice, practice being kind, practice risking their disappointment in you if you aren't nice. I think what you'll find is that the people who want to learn with you, and grow with you, and enjoy your advising and mentorship and leadership, they will be so happy that you ditched nice. You leaned into intentional kindness.

Thank you for tuning in today, and I hope you will, consider joining us in Lead. We're gonna be opening that up very soon. Talk to you soon.

Lead for Women is now open for registration. If you're a woman and you are also a visionary, somebody who sees the world differently than it is, and you are eager to achieve that through your work and by leveraging the hearts and minds of others, then I invite you to go to thevisionary.CEO/lead and learn everything you can about our Lead program.

While it's not for everyone, it really is for you if you are a woman who is ready to learn how to think better, so you can lead better, and you can live better. You have a legacy to leave here and I wanna help you leave it by enhancing and improving how you show up as a woman who leads. Join us there.

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