LEAD

The Surprising Reason Some Bosses Are Jerks No Matter What

And how to not become one of them.

Share on
BY Tommy Mello - 09 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Why on earth would bosses be jerks to their employees? According to this new study, it's because they need to relieve stress.

Apparently, if these bosses hold their tongue and try to keep themselves in check, they end up "draining" their willpower.

Right.

Now, I understand that bosses and entrepreneurs work 10.4 hour days on average (I can relate since I work a lot myself as the head of my company), and this can lead to having a shorter fuse...

But if you ask me, venting on your team is a strict no-no.

As the owner of my own business, I never tolerate jerks (and that includes myself.) Forget about the popular myth that jerks are great leaders: Even Steve Jobs mellowed down when he returned to Apple as the CEO -- and that's how he got even more successful.

You just need one person to show up with a bad attitude, and you risk poison your entire company culture. And it's 100 times worse if the person is you, the founder or CEO.

Here's how you can build a no-jerk work culture:

1. Play the role of a coach when things go wrong.

It's easy to lash out on your employees when things go wrong, but that isn't productive at all. To empower your employees to fix their mistakes and grow in their respective roles, you should act as a coach.

Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google, nails it on the head when he says that the value of a coach lies in his/her ability to provide perspective. Once you help your employees see what they've done wrong, and how they can correct their mistakes, they'll be able to apply this to all the subsequent work they do for your company.

Pro-tip: When you're coaching your employees, don't just focus on the micro (how to improve in a particular situation). Train your employees to look at the big picture, by asking them questions such as "How can this tactic help us reach our strategic goals?"

2. Be the 'mascot' of your culture.

We all say 'monkey see, monkey do'. It's true as well for human beings, and especially people who work day in day out with each other. As the leader, you might not have the time to get to know each of your employees. But, what you can do is be a positive role model.

Why is this important? How you behave in the company will spread around, and will form what your employees think about you and even do themselves.

If you're constantly scolding your staff, you're effectively telling your managers that they, too, can lecture their subordinates. Similarly, if you don't show up in the office much, you can bet your employees will start taking two-hour lunches and cutting corners at work.

I make it a point to be positive and supportive when interacting with employees. I'm always one of the first ones to arrive at the office, and the last one to leave. By showing your employees that you're dedicated to running your business and grooming your team, you'll inspire them to perform better at work -- without having to say a single word.

3. Get honest feedback from your employees constantly.

Let's be honest: it's hard to be objective, especially when it comes to your own leadership skills. Because of this, bosses who are jerks don't often know that they're actually being jerks.

So how do you become more self-aware, and find out how good of a boss you are? Simple. Just ask your employees.

Allow employees to submit their feedback anonymously, so that they don't self-censor for the fear of being punished. More importantly, let your employees know that you want to become a better leader, and their honest feedback will be rewarded in turn.

When you get feedback that might sting, put your ego aside. It's not about who's right or wrong - it's about how you can lead your employees more effectively. You can do this one-off or on a regular basis. I recommend doing the latter, since that makes sure you get feedback all the time.

So take it from me: You can be assertive and push your team to greater heights, while still maintaining a great relationship with them.