Nice guys in business are definitely running a different race

Nice guys

The other day I came across a study originally published in the Harvard Business Review, which draws a conclusion about “nice guys” that truly surprised me.

“Results showed that more agreeable — i.e. nicer and friendlier — men earned significantly less than other men. This isn’t typically true for young workers — the effect is only visible once men turn 30, and it’s strongest between ages 40 and 60.”

This study (which followed the earnings of men over a period of time) attributed three personality traits as the influencers for those earning greater financial benefits between the ages of 40 and 60.

Those traits included men who are more conscientious, more extroverted and less agreeable.

Traits that often do not apply to the “nice guys” out in the world.

It got me to thinking about my own circumstances and the environments I’ve experienced throughout my career.

While I’ve tried to disprove the conclusions drawn above, the sad reality is I have to agree with them.

When I look back at the “nice guys” I’ve encountered during my career, they weren’t the guys in high-level leadership positions who had an unsavory disposition and a fat paycheck.

They weren’t the guys with no compassion or social skills who bullied their employees as a form of motivation.

From my perspective, the nice guys were always overshadowed by those who were more conscientious, more extroverted and less agreeable.

It seems these traits are now what many organizations believe defines the best leaders and performers in business today.

If earning more money during my career and advancing to some high-level leadership role means adopting traits I don’t agree with for any human being, under any circumstances – count me out.

I am a “nice guy” – I pride myself on that. Sacrificing who I am for financial gains and prestigious titles will never equate to a life well lived. And isn’t THAT what’s most important?

Ken Blanchard once said, “Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running a different race.”

To all you “nice guys” out there – keep on running.