how not to be a jerk and still become a great leader

lot of times, I get asked the same question, “What is the most difficult task in operating a venture?” And I come with the same answer all the time, “to delegate responsibilities and to ensure work is being executed as planned and still not be called a jerk.”

A lot of people may think, a CEO or a manger may simply delegate work, sit back and relax. The more the number of the employees, the easier it gets for the executives, right? Wrong! In my experience, having run over 5 businesses and having managed over a hundred delegates, I can say without a doubt that the more the number of employees, the more challenging it is going to become. And the most challenging tasks of them all- to become a great leader and still not be considered a jerk.
Would leaders be able to succeed by being naïve, kind and polite to their employees? Certainly not! So, how can they win the hearts of their counterparts and still become a great leader? Here is how:

Lead by example: Back in 2007, I was in the U.S, working night-shift at a gas-station. My job back then was to simply operate the counter and do nothing else. However, I’d always find one of my owners carrying the heavy boxes, sweeping floors, filling up the coolers and doing all the heavy-duty work that I would simply wish to ignore. Soon, I said to myself, “If my boss is doing it, why should I not?” I carry that same attitude in the businesses I conduct today. Rather than simply instructing employees to do things, I start the work and soon they follow and take over.

Reasoning: Compare these two statements: “I want that report on my desk by evening,” and “I want that report by the evening because if you do so we can then submit it to the agency that will fund us for our project.” The latter is much more motivating for employees to complete the given task on time because they know its importance. A supervisor should not sound impolite while assigning work either.

Carrot and Stick: Let us go back to our school days. All of us had two kinds of teachers: one who would scold and punish all the time and one who would encourage and motivate. The latter would usually fail because too many carrots would only fatten the rabbit and make him lazy. But rarely were there teachers who would punish when needed and reward at other times. Whenever such teachers punished, it would make sense because we’d know that had we completed our tasks, we would have been rewarded instead. It’s the same case between managers and employees.

Treat everyone equally: A manager cannot refrain from being considered a jerk if he allows favoritism at work. Its like the elder brother in the family arguing that whatever he does is wrong and whatever his younger brother does is right. In the end, he stops listening to his parents. If a manager allows favoritism at work, the employees who are not being treated well will consider the manager a ‘jerk’ and his work orders will not be executed properly.

Take care of your employees: The rule is simple: “You take care of me, I take care of you”. For example, during transportation strikes, I allow my employees who live far from the office to work from home. When one of my employees was going through problems at home, and was under a lot of stress, we all went out for dinner and drinks after work. Employees will remember when the company cares. At other times, even if we raise our voices and yell at them, they will not consider us jerks because they know that at times of need, we are also their friends.

If you follow these tips but are still being considered a jerk, then perhaps you’re not the one who is a jerk after all.

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