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Build Your Career Office Life

8 Michael Scott Quotes Every Leader Should Live By

8 Michael Scott Quotes Every Leader Should Live By
Credit: NBC/Netflix

Fans of "The Office" know that Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrell) may not have been the best boss all the time — in fact, he's guilty of some not-so-HR-friendly behavior and wasn't the most productive employee, either. However, Michael did have some admirable qualities that made him a good boss. What he lacked in political correctness and business savvy, he made up for in enthusiasm about his job and compassion for his employees. 

Michael Scott once said, "Sometimes I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way." And what he usually found was a statement that was equal parts bold, hilarious and yes, even inspiring.

These eight quotes from The Office's self-appointed "World's Best Boss" may make you laugh out loud, but they can also teach you a thing or two about business.

The quote: "Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order."(Season 6, Episode 20)

The lesson: The quote itself may be a little silly, but the sentiment behind Michael's words still rings true in sales. If you want to make sales, you can't focus on making sales — you have to focus on making and maintaining real connections with clients first.

The quote: "Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me." (Season 2, Episode 6)

The lesson: As a leader, you have to find the right balance between being liked and being respected. Sure, that's not exactly the sentiment Michael was trying to convey when he was explaining his leadership style, but he does have a point. Being a scary boss isn't the best route to take, but being a lovable boss with no backbone isn't any better. A little bit of both, however, can make a great leader. [7 Fictional TV Bosses We Wish Were Real ]

The quote: "You need to play to win. But you also have to win to play." (Season 2, Episode 4)

The lesson: This was one of Michael's "ten rules of business" and on first read, this quote doesn’t really make much sense, but if you think about it in terms of attitude, it's actually great advice. You need to participate to even have a chance at winning anything, and you also need to have a winning attitude to take a risk and try in the first place. 

The quote: "I swore to myself that if I ever got to walk around the room as manager, people would laugh when they saw me coming, and would applaud as I walked away." (Season 2, Episode 14)

The lesson: Before he actually became the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company's Scranton branch, Michael Scott had big dreams and goals for himself in the future, as all professionals should. And this quote reaffirms the idea of finding balance between being liked and being respected — Michael wanted to be a leader who could laugh with his employees, but also be taken seriously.

The quote: "People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me the choice is easy." (Season 4, Episode 3)

The lesson: OK, so computers aren't exactly known for committing murder in lakes, but in a world where technology evolves on a daily basis, the idea of machines replacing human interaction is a real concern. As always, Michael valued and appreciated the importance of human connections, be it relationships with his employees or with the company's clients.

The quote: "The most sacred thing I do is care and provide for my workers, my family. I give them money. I give them food. Not directly, but through the money. I heal them." (Season 1, Episode 3)

The lesson: In this episode, Michael may have been taking the responsibility of choosing a new health care plan for his employees a little too seriously — he even compared himself to a doctor — but this quote is a nice (albeit kind of hilarious) reminder of the importance of offering quality benefits to employees. Michael always made it a point to ensure that his employees were taken care of, even though he himself didn't ask for a raise for years.

The quote: "The people that you work with are, when you get down to it, your very best friends." (Season 7, Episode 21)

The lesson: Michael was a problematic manager in many ways, but he always valued his relationships with his employees above all else. Maybe your employees shouldn't be your "very best friends" and you might not always get along with your co-workers, but the truth is, you'll be spending most of your time around the people you work with — you should make it a point to at least establish a friendly relationship so that everyone enjoys coming to work every day.

The quote: "Granted, maybe this was not the best idea, but at least we care enough about our employees that we are willing to fight for them." (Season 4, Episode 10)

The lesson: When another Dunder Mifflin branch tried to lure one of Michael's employees away from Scranton, Michael refused to go down without a fight. He didn't want to lose one of his team members, and that's another important leadership quality. Good bosses need to be able to recognize their employees' value, no matter what they bring to the table.

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.