A former boss once told me that as a manager I was too nurturing. It affected me on many levels. Would a male manager ever get feedback that he was too nurturing? Is it bad to be nurturing to your staff? It bothered me, but since I'm a reflective person, I thought first about how I could learn from the feedback. Then after a few minutes of reflecting I thought about the type of jobs I would apply for once I left their office.
But I still reflect on this feedback, especially now that I'm running my own company. Should I be more aggressive? More punitive? Will that make me more successful?
I've never actually looked up the word in the dictionary.
the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.
Every boss has a thing. A thing you have to decide you can deal with. Some bosses don't close their computers when they talk to you. Some bosses rule with fear. Some bosses never show up. My thing is that I care for and encourage the growth of people and things.
My boss was right on. I am nurturing. I care. I not only care about the people I manage, I also care about the people who hire me to do work for them. And I care about the work. I care about the future of the business. I also care about the families I support and whether people are happy when they come to work.
And I am ok that this is my thing.
But, let's be honest, on the other side of caring, is knowing when to stop caring. Work issues hit me harder and it's difficult to turn them off. It's harder to compartmentalize. This is something I am working on. Understanding when it's ok to take a step back and watch the traffic go by, rather than letting it hit me.
I do want to be clear that caring and nurturing is very different than being emotional. And we all know that women are judged more sternly in their abilities to control their emotions. That part I'm good at, I'm conscientious but my decisions are rooted in fact and logic.
So, turns out, that boss taught me two important lessons. Be who you are and don't apologize. And, if your job makes you care less, then it's time to move on.
I'm glad I did.
Jaime Bancroft Gennaro is the CEO of Neologic, a digital experience agency with an innovation lab. Neologic is proud of the recent launch of their two in-house projects: Cornbread App and Poetry for Robots