Bad Behavior: Are you a jerk?

One of the biggest mistakes that leaders make is behaving like a jerk. Here are five indicators that your team might perceive you as jerk:

1.     You criticize character rather than behavior

You might disagree with an employee’s behavior or decision, but attacking someone’s character will likely earn you the title of jerk. When you say things like “you’re unprofessional” or “you’re unmotivated” or “you’re lazy” the focus is on the person rather than their behavior. As a leader, your feedback will be more effective if you focus on behaviorally based feedback and you will avoid the title “jerk”; at least for now.

2.     You’re condescending towards your employees

An employee asks a question that you think he or she should know the answer to and you say, “If you actually paid attention at work you might know the answer to that question.” Making employees feel stupid for asking you a question will most likely prevent them from asking you again, but it also demoralizes employees and affects engagement.

3.     You block career moves

While tempting to hold onto your top talent, preventing your employees from moving into different positions is a jerky move. Preventing career moves to serve your own needs and eliminate the stress of having to replace a top performer is cause for employees to label you as a jerk.

4.     You humiliate your employees

The tricks that you saw in grade school do not work with adults (not that those tactics were effective with children, but people used them anyways). Pointing out to your entire staff that Betty achieved 50% of her daily goal and asking if she has been on vacation all day is a good example of jerk-like behavior.

5.     You use fear as a motivator

Telling employees they are replaceable or threatening to fire an employee on a daily basis is not only disengaging, it falls under the category of jerky behaviors. If you want to improve performance, you’ll get better results by focusing on strengths and behaviorally based feedback.

Unsure if you behave like a jerk? Click HERE to take the “jerk behavior survey.” Take a look at the behaviors on the survey. If you demonstrate five or more of these behaviors on a regular basis, chances are you’re perceived as a jerk.


Recently I heard someone say that humans are born with only two fears, fear of falling and fear of loud noise. Everything else is learned. That doesn’t mean that fear isn’t real or justified, but it does mean that fear can be conquered—not unlearned, but conquered.

Fear can be grouped into two categories: those that hold you at status quo and those that don’t. The fears that hold you at status quo can include fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of change. Fears that may not affect your performance include fear of snakes or fear of spiders. While it can be wildly refreshing and motivating to overcome your fear of snakes or your fear of spiders, chances are the snakes and spiders have not been holding you back from being your best self.

The fear that keeps you at arm’s reach from achieving your vision or the fear that keeps you from being your best, these are fears worth conquering. Too often people are afraid of the unknown. When you take time to explore what you know about your fear, it somehow loses some of its power. The exercise below will help you explore the unknown to begin taking steps towards overcoming your fear.

What fear has been holding you at status quo? Using the questions below, I encourage you to explore the unknown.

  • What happens if you __________? People rarely take time to think through what will happen if what they fear actually happens.
  • If you _____________, then what? People also forget to think about their options when what they are afraid of actually happens.
  • What does it mean if you _____________? People often manifest fears based on an assumption that a certain outcome will occur. What else could it mean if __________ happens?
  • Think of a time in your life when you’ve experienced __________________. How did you overcome it then? Sometimes people forget that they’ve conquered their fear in the past and reflecting on the past can sometimes provide useful insight for the future.

“Insider Tidbits for Unleashing Limitless Potential”

I am pleased to announce that I am launching my interactive blog on July 5th.

In my profession, I getto work with leaders and top talent from Fortune 50 organizations, highly successful small businesses and top-notch nonprofits. This blog allows me the opportunity to share with you all I learn from my diverse client base, as well as my own observations and experiences.

Below is just a sample of what you’ll see in the first month:

  • Trending Now: 5 Feedback Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Leaders that People Love: Jim Annis, The Applied Companies
  • Coachable Moments: Fear
  • Talent Drain: Jerky Behavior

My wish is for this blog to be interactive—a dialogue more than a lecture. So please, share with me your thoughts, ideas and questions.

Here’s to your success,