One of my recent articles (A Favorite)

A Good Manager Is “Tougher Than A Nail!”

To be effective, a manager must be tough. This doesn’t mean that he or she can’t be pleasant, congenial, supportive, caring, etc., but toughness is required. A weak, undisciplined, wishy-washy individual without direction, strength and convictions just won’t “cut it” in today’s tough business environment.


Most of us are familiar with the term: “tough as nails!” It implies that someone has strength, fortitude, decisiveness, resiliency, durability; mental and physical toughness. Nails are generally used in construction. They’re used to build things. They hold things together. They can be “beat on” and survive. They’re made of steel!

Just like nails, managers can hold things together, with toughness and durability, and just like a nail; an excellent manager can be beat on, or bend, typically without breaking.


As we know, a manager must plan, organize, lead and control people, activities, and resources in order to achieve results. This is a baseline. If these management requirements are not fulfilled consistently, with determination, the manager’s efforts and intentions will result in marginal accomplishments or failure. This is where toughness comes in.

It’s easy to get discouraged, rest on your laurels, give halfhearted efforts, play political “games,” serve as a functionary, duck the tough issues, make yourself look good, or lack conviction, but these attitudes and behaviors are counter-productive. It’s tempting to give in to these inclinations and easy to feel overwhelmed. However, gather your inner strength, and don’t indulge these attitudes for too long, or you will be sorry, and your business and reputation will suffer.


Remember the lowly, humble nail, and how it contributes to structure, organization, accomplishment and progress. Your job as a manager is not only to emulate the best qualities and functionality of this simple piece of steel, but to be even tougher. You have intelligence, regenerative capacity, and can learn from experience. You can be tougher than a nail!

Copyright © 2010, Dr. Ben A. Carlsen, MBA.

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