Leaders must make tough decisions, which means leaders must be tough.
If there is a department in an organization or a child in the family who makes trouble for others—whether through passive-aggression, overt bullying, absenteeism, poor quality work, or otherwise—the leader with the power to intervene must intervene. If the leader does not intervene, then the troublemaker will make more and more trouble, making the leader an indirect—but nonetheless real—endorse of the trouble maker.
Having the “power” to intervene and stop a troublemaker does not mean that a leader has the emotional trust of the organization or a 50%+ popularity rating—it only means having the legal right to raise the issue and address the matter. If a peer has the right to raise his hand at a meeting, that peer could initiate discussion to stop the troublemaker.
Of course, a “troublemaker” must be defined as someone who actually makes trouble, not someone who irritates lazy and incompetent teammates while doing good work. Many talented people are mislabeled as troublemakers when they are the only competent people on a team. “Not playing well with others” is the lowest priority in labeling a troublemaker.
…And a good leader must know this.
By being strong, everyone will interact with a strong person when they interact with the leader. This will make everyone else’s skin a little thicker, their spines stronger, and the talented person who smells funny and talks out of turn won’t be so irritating. It’s the leader’s responsibility to set that tone.
A strong leader will talk frankly and harshly at times, get irritated into ranting and raising his tone of voice. Whether a man or woman, loud or soft -spoken, each leader has his own style of “strength” and must follow that style, but still be strong. A leader who is weak and calls it “style” is not only weak, but an excuse-maker.
Sometimes people need to be fired or downsized. Children need proper, calculated spankings to stop fights among siblings. Peers need to be told truth from others.
The tough leader will be feared at times, but will thus be trusted as a safe protector during the toughest of times.