Why Great Leaders Don’t Have To Read Emily Post To Know That Manners Matter

Emily Post Was Right: Your Manners Matter“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

“Manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

“Etiquette is the science of living.  It embraces everything.  It is ethics.  It is honor.”

These are all quotes by Emily Post (1872-1960), who literally “wrote the book” on etiquette in 1922  – a book that still appears on bookstore shelves today.

And why do people still buy this book?

Because manners still matter.

As much as our modern society attempts to downplay them, discount them, make fun of them, ignore them, or even celebrate the lack of them, they still mean something.

They are a reflection of our character. Our caring. Our point-of-view.

Yes, manners never should go out of style, no matter how “unhip” and “old school” they appear to be.

Great leaders understand this, although I bet most have them have never read that Emily Post book (I count myself in that group).

Leadership, to them, is an honor.  It’s an opportunity to serve others.   And in that service, it’s a natural thing to display good manners – even in the most basic way, like never failing to use simple words like “please” and “thank you”.

It’s a show of respect that means more to building a great team than just about anything else.

And it creates an unspoken, but powerful demand for kindness and civility throughout an organization.

Here’s a great example – take something as simple as an elevator ride.

My old boss used to make sure everyone else got on the elevator before he did, and then when it arrived at its destination, he’d be the last person out.

Every single time.

Think about the silent message there.  “I’m not putting myself ahead of anyone in this company”

He was also the kind of person who would drive us to the restaurants for lunch, or be the one opening the doors in front of us.

Quite the “old-schooler”.   And these were only examples.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be a surprise to you to know that his employees (myself included) were fiercely loyal to him, and his executive turnover was extraordinarily low.

Yes, manners matter.

Think about your own day to day lives, and the effect that good manners have had on you.    Then, think about the times that people have acted rudely or inappropriately around you.   How did that make you feel?

It all comes back around to the  “Golden Rule”, doesn’t it?   I’m sure that’s where Emily got her inspiration.  Treat others the way we want to be treated.

It’s so easy today to become self-absorbed, losing more and more of that awareness that Emily wrote so eloquently about.

Don’t lose it.    Look outward, and put that “innate character” fully on display.

You’re a leader.  Show the way!











  1. says

    Thanks Hollie for your comment. Yes, it’s all about common sense. That seems to be one of the hardest things to keep in this hectic age.
    All the best,

  2. says

    Great post, Terry. My dad was a very successful businessman. Throughout his career he never had his calls screened, and he was just as courteous to telemarketers as he was to customers. I used to think this was crazy, but with every passing year I see the wisdom in what he did. You never know where the next opportunity will come from, so you can never go wrong being polite to everyone. Plus – it sets a great example for others and lifts the quality of an entire organization.

  3. says

    Thanks Brad! It also took me a while to figure out that answering my own phone was the right thing to do, but for the lat 20 years, that’s what it did. And, as you would imagine, the boss I mentioned in the post answered his own phone too.
    All the best!

  4. Margie Nicely says

    I agree that manners still matter!
    I am 70 years young and cannot believe how our society has lost the feel for common sense and manners. I work in a firm that has a very high group of staff that think they are entitled to be rude to people who they
    see as ” beneath them “!
    And it all starts with the CEO who loves to belittle people who work in other departments who are not as educated or as high up in the ladder.
    I have been there for a little over a year, and it all started two days after I joined the company with The Accounts Payable manager ( she is really the only person in that department ) She was given that title a few years ago so that they could still give her a raise, no matter how small it was!
    It gets very frustrating at times. If people could see themselves as they really are when belittling and being condescending to others!
    Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting any better!

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