When I was doing book research on what makes great leaders, I can't tell you how many times people mentioned the frugality of famous bosses like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos. The stingier sounding they were, the more they were admired. People mused at how Buffett still preferred to park and walk rather than be chauffeured around in a fancy limousine like the rest of the billionaires.
That might be admirable in a celebrity CEO, but in everyday life, being cheap isn't going to win you many friends. In "real life," we're expected to spend generously on others and if we don't, it's considered a character flaw.
It's just one of the many traits that we oddly admire in great leaders but would hate if that great leader happened to be your best friend. Being cheap is my favorite one. But here's 4 others you might not have thought of:
Yelling at people: Almost every leader I've talked to says yelling is an effective management tool. Nobody likes to do it (well, maybe some secretly do) but if something isn't getting done, yelling seems to jolt people right into action. In everyday life? Not so much. Yelling never amounts to anything productive whether it's yelling at your kids, spouse or friends. It also makes you look weird.
Aggressiveness: Successful people are dogged in their determination. Stories abound of how they've called future employers dozens of times to get the job or devised offbeat, strategic ways to get into the right room with a client. A young Steve Schwarzman even once called Harvard's dean to tell him how wrong he was not to choose him for a student. Who does that? Successful people do. The rest of us? We'd either get the police called on us or phone blocked by our associates.
Megalomania: One venture investor told me once that when he meets a future CEO, he always asks them how big they want to grow the company. If the answer is too small a number (ie. I want it to be a $20 million business), then that's generally a bad sign he or she is not thinking big enough. An investor wants his or her CEO to be a giant megalomaniac ready to build the next billion-dollar business. However, thinking like a giant megalomaniac usually means you're likely to be a, well, giant megalomaniac which means you're probably pretty awful to be around. In which case, you might really need that money to buy some friends.
Awkwardness: Leaders can be charismatic, funny, articulate. However, a great number are none of those things-they're actually quite staid and awkward. In fact, being awkward is a somewhat admired trait in a CEO. The more standoffish and obscure he or she seems, the more intriguing the personality. What's buried in that deep, dark mind that few are capable of piercing, one might think. In real life, being awkward is the easiest way to never get asked back to a party. One is expected to be an extrovert, fun to be around, charming and articulate with thousands of followers on all social network platforms plus Youtube. Seems awkwardness is something you have to earn in order to join the exclusive club of great business leaders.
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