12 Leadership Lessons We Can All Learn from Seinfeld

Jake Wilder
8 min readSep 5, 2020
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I read too much of the news the other day. Filling my morning with politics, disasters, and general conservative hate-mongering was enough to sink into a well of depression. Too depressed to work actually.

So instead, I sat down and watched a classic Seinfeld episode. Procrastination? Of course. But at least I wasn’t depressed any longer. And in the process I remembered that the show’s ridiculous bosses not only left great memories, but offered their share of leadership lessons as well.

So in an attempt to rationalize further research into my favorite show of all time, here are 12 leadership lessons that we can all learn from 12 great Seinfeld bosses.

1. Mr. Kruger — Recognize your weaknesses. And always hire people smarter than you.

The head of Kruger Industrial Smoothing, noted for botching the Statue of Liberty job because “they couldn’t get the green stuff off,” made no pretense of his limited business sense and managerial talents. Unsure of whether his business is in the red or the black — “whichever is bad” — he knows to stick to his strengths, namely creating employee nicknames and enforcing Christmas present standards within the office. Aware of his own shortcomings, he’s able to surround himself with more qualified people to deal with the big problems — like when the “R” falls of the building and it now just says K-uger!

While Kruger’s example may be an extreme, our goal should always be to hire people better than us. Most people shy away from this, worried that if they hire someone smarter than them, it will reveal their own weaknesses. In reality, the opposite is true. When you hire for strengths to complement your own weaknesses, you drive innovation and excellence, improving both you and your company in the process. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening at first.

2. Jacopo “J.” Peterman — Be unapologetically authentic. Bring your whole self to work.

J. Peterman may have been an eccentric boss, but above all he was authentic. He was a citizen of the world and inspired both himself and his customers through adventure. He wouldn’t hesitate…

--

--

Jake Wilder

I don’t know where I’m going. But at least I know how to get there.