7 leadership lessons from 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy


Jack Donaghy, of NBC’s 30 Rock, is arguably the best on-screen boss the world has ever seen. His success-driven life philosophies, ability to navigate any difficult situation, and flawless problem-solving skills make him an inspirational figure for businessmen (and women!) everywhere.

While we don’t recommend mimicking his bluntness and occasional insensitivity, some of the quotes we’ve culled from the series back up solid leadership lessons.

The quote:

Jack: “Now let me hear you say the seven most important words in the American judicial system.”
Lawyer: “My client has no memory of that.”

The takeaway: Follow a proven strategy. Thinking inside the box gets a bad rap sometimes. While creativity in problem solving is certainly something to be encouraged, there’s nothing wrong with using a tried-and-tested method when you need to get results.

The quote:

“Pete, did you know that men with full heads of hair, on average, earn 17 percent more than their bald counterparts?”

The takeaway: Back up what you say with statistics. Help your employees understand the reasoning behind certain practices by giving them examples with measurable results. Sometimes we don’t want to do something because we see no legitimate reason to. Statistics and other data are a great way to help people see the method in your madness, and make your ideas and strategies more credible.

The quote:

Liz: “Why are you wearing a TUX?”
Jack: “It’s after six. What am I – a farmer?!”

The takeaway: Always dress for success. This should go without saying – always dress appropriately and in a way that commands the level of respect your job – or job aspiration – requires. How you look sends a big message about the type of person you are, so don’t let your workplace style make the wrong impression.

The quote:

“We all have ways of coping. I use sex, and awesomeness.”

The takeaway: Be confident at all times. People are more motivated when their leader is confident – confident in the abilities of himself and those on his team. While bragging about sexual escapades is unlikely to be appropriate, conveying confidence in what you do is, and will create a better energy within your team.

The quote:

“OK, now the crabs are getting aroused – shut it down. Shut it down.”

The takeaway: Know when to put a stop to a failing strategy. Don’t rigidly stick to an unsuccessful tactic purely because you already started to – if something is obviously not working, move on, and find a strategy that does work.

The quote:

Liz: “Do you want a hug?”
Jack: “What is this, the Italian parliament? No.”

The takeaway: Speak honestly and clearly. Nothing is more important in effective leadership than good communication skills. Tell people what’s up, and aim to speak so clearly that no one needs to request clarification.

The quote:

Liz: “Cross promotional. Deal mechanics. Revenue streams. Jargon. Synergy.”
Jack: “That’s the best presentation I’ve ever seen. Get started right away.”

The takeaway: Recognize the great ideas of others. Naturally, complimenting others always boosts morale. Don’t let good work go unpraised.