There are two things everyone knows about Steve Jobs. He pushes his employees to make some pretty impressive—and market-changing—products. He's also a horrible person to work for. Now the Harvard Business Review confirms, once again, the latter.
Jobs, for all of his virtues, clings to the Great Man Theory of Leadership - a CEO-centric model of executive power that is outmoded, unsustainable, and, for most of us mere mortals, ineffective in a world of non-stop change. A Wired magazine cover story from last year made the point well. The article begins with a memorable anecdote - the CEO, in search of a space in the company's crowded parking lot, regularly leaves his Mercedes in a handicapped space, sometimes taking up two spaces. The pattern became so noticeable that employees, according to the article, put notes on his windshield that read, Park Different.
"Jobs' fabled attitude toward parking", writer Leander Kahney says, "reflects his approach to business: For him, the regular rules do not apply." That means shrouding his company in secrecy; treating his employees to tyrannical outbursts; and refusing basic accommodations that would make beautifully designed products more customer-friendly. (As one wise-guy blogger commented, in decidedly bad taste: "I can't believe Steve Jobs's liver is replaceable but the battery in my iPhone is not.")
So to all those execs that are looking to Steve Jobs to emulate? Cut it out. Emulate his good points, like the ability to get products out the door, but not his lousy points. [Harvard Business via PC World]