In our series of “Being a Jerk as a Leader,” we are talking about various traits of the right kind of “jerk.” This article, “Being a Jerk as a Leader: Why You Must Maintain Balance,” covers the balance in our lives.
If you think that being a jerk is not a great leadership trait, you might want to reconsider your view. Look carefully at a great leader, and you'll see that leader accused of being a jerk – or worse. Leaders are, frankly, labeled as jerks by some people. That's not a bad thing. If you've been a leader for long, you know you're doing a good job when you have people complaining about the good things you do. Reactions can be based on jealousy, being threatened, or from selfishness. It really doesn't matter. If you're good, you're not going to be liked.
Eliminate the Noise
We need to cut out the distractions. Acknowledge distractions and then get rid of them. We shouldn't get distracted with people who talk about unproductive stuff. As a result, people can accuse us as being jerks because we don't get caught up with the stuff that doesn't help. That's okay. Be a jerk and maintain laser-sharp focus. Stay on what is important. Look for those things that are going to be important down the road. Don't waste time with mental cotton candy.
Commitment to Excellence
When we lead, we need to maintain balance in our personal and professional lives. Not only are we commit at work and with our career, we commit to excellence for how we live our personal lives. Our families want involvement and our presence in their lives. For those who don't maintain this kind of balance, they're going to think we're jerks because we “don't care .” No, we care about work and doing it well. Engage 100% at home like at work.
When we lead, we need to maintain balance in considering the influence of our peers, team members and friends. Consider all of the relationships we maintain. It's important to balance what we give, what we take away and what kind of time, attention and influence we put into them. The reality is that, as leaders, we're not always able to spend time with everyone who demands our attention. That fact puts us into the crosshairs of those people who demand more for their own selfish reasons. In their eyes, our refusal or inability to spend all of the time they want with them makes us jerks. As a leader, you need to say “no” to the unimportant stuff – which ultimately will make people think you're a jerk.
Take Your Own Path
One last point – people are going to be jealous of you when you maintain a focused, balanced life. Some people commit to proving that you're “not as good as you think you are” as a leader. Consider this trap and avoid it. Great leaders will attract people who will want your attention – especially those who want to be successful, but aren't willing to put in the hard work. They'll think that being around you will give them success they deserve. They think that you'll open the doors for them to be successful. More importantly, when you don't do the work for them, they'll get angry, and you'll get labeled as a jerk.
If you're accused of being a jerk because you're balancing your obligations and your relationships, congratulations! Keep it up!