October 16 is National Boss's Day. And since our first post about Leadership Lessons from Michael Scott was so popular, we did our best to find 4 MORE sneaky great leadership lessons from Michael Scott! A few of these illustrate that “what not to do” can teach some important lessons, too.
Lesson 1—Know when to end a meeting
In “Launch Party” (Season 4, Episode 3), Michael is holding a meeting in the conference room. Unfortunately, all of his employees are more interested in what’s happening behind him, not what he was saying. They were all watching the television monitor to see if the bouncing screen-saver would bounce perfectly in a corner. When it eventually does, everybody cheers and immediately leaves the meeting. Michael misunderstands and thinks the positive energy stemmed from his message.
I’m sure we’ve all been in (and maybe even held) meetings that last much longer than needed. Research shows that meeting engagement diminishes quickly after about half an hour. And attention levels keep dropping the longer the meeting goes. While meetings certainly have their place, Michael’s meeting illustrates what can happen when we drag those meetings out longer than needed.
Lesson 2—Know how to defuse an argument
In “Did I stutter?” (Season 4, Episode 12), Michael gets into an argument with one of his employees, Stanley Hudson, during an office-wide meeting. Throughout the episode Michael tries various methods to resolve this argument—even pretending to fire him—until at the end of the episode Michael finally just communicates his thoughts and feelings with Stanley. Through this open communication, they work out a compromise so that Stanley can still be productive without undermining Michael’s authority.
While Michael initially addresses this problem in all the wrong ways, he eventually pulls Stanley into his office and addreses the disagreement head on. The two are able to clearly communicate their thoughts and together they create a Way Forward that makes them both more productive.
Lesson 3—Care about your employees as people
In “Business School” (Season 3, Episode 16), Pam Beesly has her art featured in a local art show and invites all her coworkers to come support her. Only one coworker, Oscar Martinez, and his boyfriend come but end up making fun of her art when they thought she wasn’t listening. Pam starts to cry and is about to leave when Michael finally comes. He shows genuine admiration and offers to buy her painting of the building where they work. At the end of the episode Michael is shown hanging this painting up next to his office.
Michael successfully demonstrates another powerful lesson for business leaders: good leaders take the time to show they care about thir employees’ success—inside and outside of work.
Lesson 4—Don’t let preconceived notions get in the way
In “Goodbye, Toby” (Season 4, Episode 18), we once again see Michael’s hatred of Toby Flenderson, the Human Resources Representative. Michael decides to throw a huge party to welcome Toby’s replacement, Holly Flax, and more importantly celebrate the fact that Toby is leaving. Michael automatically assumes that he will hate Holly because of her role in HR, but near the end of the episode explains: “Thanks to Toby, I have a very strong prejudice against Human Resources. I believe that the department is a breeding ground for monsters. What I failed to consider though, is that not all monsters are bad.”
Anyone who knows how Michael and Holly’s story ends knows that Michael would have been making a huge mistake to judge Holly solely on her job title. Good leaders know to not let stereotypes get in the way of productive work relationships.
We’ll all find ourselves in situations where we make mistakes as leaders. Like Michael Scott, we will find times that we do right by the people we work with when our hearts are in the right place.
What lessons have you learned from the leaders you’ve observed in your own life? Share your wisdom in the comments.