Be less of a jerk.
That may be the most simplistic leadership advice you’ll ever receive. Why then, is it so difficult to achieve?
Because, we glamorize people who act like jerks. By definition, they are quick, sharp and sudden, which are desirable leadership traits. We cannot help but enjoy the bravado and outlandishness. It is easier to cheer on jerks than those who are mealy-mouthed and non-offensive.
The people we think of as jerks in the world, tend to accomplish a lot. Unsuccessful jerks are rare. In our pendulum world, we build up the nice guy and then tear him down if he makes what we consider a jerky move. Or, we give the jerk a pass because his novelty is funny and even refreshing. We applaud the straight talk. Then, if they start to make nice, if they compromise or give a little, they are lambasted as traitors or worse.
Ours is an interesting society.
Actors like to play villains. Writers enjoy crafting a good nemesis. We’ve all lost someone or have been attracted to, the stereotypical bad-boy or bad-girl in our lives.
As a grown up, you may have noticed there are still many jerks in the world. You, if statistics can be believed, likely work for one. Moreover, if you are leading others, it is inevitable, someone, somewhere, thinks you are a jerk.
Are they right?
What good has acting like one brought you, or others?
You might have what you think is a legitimate answer, but really, there’s no excuse for being a jerk. You can achieve the same results, and more if you instead act with class.
A jerk cares primarily about themselves; they do not serve others beyond that goal. A leader with class acts on behalf of others.
A jerk is blind to integrity. They have a narrow definition of it which is often fungible. They prize loyalty and honesty in others who serve them, but don’t return the courtesy. A leader with class makes sure their word means something.
A jerk has no dignity. Thier trademark is the blatant disrespect and contempt they hold for others. A leader with class treats everyone with dignity, regardless of their station in life.
A jerk is incapable of empathy. A leader with class pauses to imagine and share in what someone else is thinking and feeling.
Do not misinterpret a leader who acts with class to be weak, they are not. In fact, because they are the rare breed virtually devoid of insecurity and committed to a purpose, they are among the strongest. Jerks make noise, and try to convince people it is music. Effective leaders make a difference, often in the quiet hours. You do not see them because they are not celebrated with the same vigor. They do not desire press or adoring fans. They want results that help change the world.
A full-blooded jerk does not reflect and, therefore, can not see clearly. If you’ve been a jerk to someone and you know it, there’s hope for you. Next time, be less of a jerk.