I was recently talking with a colleague who was new to her position. She was describing some of the changes that she would like to make and sought my advice on the timing of them.
This led to a wonderful discussion about the challenges of affecting change. If you are seen as too nice, then change is hard because people won’t take you seriously. If you are labeled as too tough, then you have difficulty building the relationships and trust necessary to earn support from others.
Both of these positions are exacerbated when you are first in a position because people don’t have a history with you to modulate your responses over time. Being seen as either a softie or a bully does you no good; you need to navigate the space in between in order to create an impact.
The best way to traverse down a narrow channel is to make turns carefully. You still can make progress, but take some time to build the credibility you need to survive in the long run.