Reflections on Leadership: How Not to be a Jerk Part 2

Weekly Inspiration

How Not to be a Jerk Part 2

In last week’s post I started a 3-part series about how not to be a jerk. This series is based on my new favorite (and made up) quote.

“Leadership is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re a jerk!”

In this week’s edition I am going to share a few more strategies leaders can adopt to not be a jerk. While last week’s theme was treating people as equals this week’s theme is about being approachable. I firmly believe the best leaders are approachable and don’t do things to discourage others to interact with them.

  1. Give generously. When you are generous and you give to others it immediately demonstrates that you are approachable. It shows that you aren’t just in it for yourself and that is critical. Do things for others even when there is nothing in it for you.
  2. Make time for others. The most important way to be generous is with your time. A leader makes himself/herself available to others even when it is inconvenient. Yes, you have a lot going on but that isn’t an excuse to hide away and avoid people. Your number one priority as a leader is the people and you need to make time for them even if you have to schedule and protect the time on your calendar.
  3. Don’t complain especially about being busy. Nobody wants to hear you complain. If you are complaining and negative people will not want to approach you because they will feel like they are bothering you. This is particularly impactful when your complaints are about being busy. Everybody is busy or at least they should be. So don’t fall into the trap of the cult of busy – see my 5/13/2018 post Leaders are not too busy.
  4. Say please and thank you. Manners are important. When you say please and thank you it shows people that you respect them. This respect helps give them the opening to approach you because they will assume you are not a joke.
  5. Don’t interrupt or talk over people. While talking about manners I want to address one of the most annoying habits that immediately shows other people that they don’t really matter to you. When you talk over people or interrupt them you are saying “yeah yeah, but what I have to say is really important and you are not.” It annoys people, it sends a terrible message and makes people not want to talk to you at all!
  6. Make people laugh even if you are the target of the joke. Victor Borge once said “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” A good laugh brings people together and making people laugh is a great way to make yourself approachable. When you can laugh at yourself and the joke is at your expense it is even more effective.
  7. Be vulnerable and trust others. The reason laughing at yourself is so effective is that it shows vulnerability which is the gateway to trust. While it may be uncomfortable being vulnerable really shows others that you trust them and that they should trust you and that is the cornerstone of being approachable, right?

Call to Action: Same as last week make life as a leader, and the life of your followers, a little easier by actively taking steps to not be a jerk. By taking simple steps to make sure that you are approachable you break down one more barrier between yourself and others and are that much less jerkish.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.