Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrell in “The Office”) was an interesting leader, to put it lightly. But despite his not-suitable-for-work behavior and unproductivity, he possessed many admirable qualities, from compassion to loyalty.
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.” What he usually found was a statement that was equal parts bold, hilarious and, yes, even inspiring.
These eight quotes from the self-appointed World’s Best Boss might make you laugh out loud, but they can also teach you a thing or two about business.
1. The quote: “You may look around and see two groups here: white collar, blue collar. But I don’t see it that way, and you know why not? Because I am collar-blind.” (Season 2, Episode 15)
The lesson: Regardless of their job title, Michael doesn’t view any worker as better than another. He treats each of his employees (except Toby) with care and appreciation. Leaders should never favor one person or believe that someone is more valuable just because of the nature of their work.
2. The quote: “Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice, strike three.” (Season 3, Episode 13)
The lesson: Michael doesn’t have a “three strikes, you’re out” mindset. To him, poor choices should not be made twice. But despite this no-nonsense attitude, Michael still believes in second chances. Every leader can benefit from this perspective.
3. The quote: “‘You miss 100 percent of the chances you don’t take.’ – Wayne Gretzky” (Season 5, Episode 23)
The lesson: So, maybe Michael didn’t coin this well-known quote, but the message still rings true. If you want to achieve anything, especially in business, you first must try. Don’t let the possibility of failure hold you back. (Oh, and always cite your sources.)
4. The quote: “Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that’s always trying to teach people things. Sometimes you just have to be the boss of dancing.” (Season 2, Episode 11)
The lesson: You know what they say: “When in doubt, dance it out. – Unknown” – Sammi Caramela
5. The quote: “Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order.” (Season 6, Episode 20)
The lesson: If you want to make sales, you have to also make and maintain real connections with consumers. You don’t want to be another corporate robot only interested in monetary rewards. The more genuine you are, the more willing clients will be to do business with you.
6. 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. Being an intimidating boss isn’t the best route to take, but being a lovable boss with no backbone isn’t much better. A little bit of both, however, can make a great leader.
7. 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: Technology is indeed taking over, and the idea of machines replacing human interaction is now a real concern. But as always, Michael appreciated the importance of human connections, be it relationships with his employees or with the company’s clients.
8. 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: This quote is a nice (albeit 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. His team and their health were his priority.
9. 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.
10. 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. Good bosses need to recognize their employees’ worth, no matter what they bring to the table.
Bonus quote: “Pizza: the great equalizer.” (Season 2, Episode 15)
The lesson: This might not have much to do with leadership, but every great boss should understand the value of pizza.
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan.