All successful business people are jerks to some degree, right? Steve Jobs, one of the most brilliant and successful entrepreneurs, who is liked (worshiped) by many had personality that many of us would not be able to stand. He fired quarter of the team working on next generation computer called Lisa because they were not “A-players”. He even refused to pay the share of bonus he and his partner, Steve Wozniak, had received after laboring for 4 grueling days to meet the deadline to produce a prototype.
These and the stories of other successful people may make us think that the only way to succeed in entrepreneurship or in small business is to be a jerk and screw people of their fair share. But is that a fair assessment? Were they successful because they were jerks or is there more than what meets your eyes?
I think people wrongly see the words success and jerk and make an association between them without giving much thought to other traits and skills of these successful people. Steve Jobs was a “jerk”, no doubt. But he was successful because of his brilliant insight and passion for perfection. These qualities made him not tolerate any mediocrity in product or people. The “jerk” behavior he showed was manifested not from these qualities, but from his personality. And that’s where the difference lies. You can still demand the best from everyone around you, but how you do it determines whether world will see you as successful businessman or brilliant jerk.
So how does this relate to small business owners? When you are running a small business you have to be demanding and tough on everyone around you. After all, you are the one who stands to lose the most if things don’t work out as planned. If you are being perceived as being “soft” people will and do take advantage of you. I have experienced that myself when running a business and so has every other business owner.
The important point to remember is that there is a difference between being a jerk and being tough. When you are a jerk you are not fair, honest and objective. You don’t see people as human being, but as pawns in the game of chess who will achieve your goals. This attitude may work and you may become successful, but at what price? The people will admire your achievements (or are they just admiring your money?) However, will you be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day and feel great about what you have achieved?
I have never met Steve Jobs nor have I benefited from his achievements (beyond using the iDevices he so successfully developed), but I do admire him greatly for what he has given to world. I was one of the millions of people who shed tears when hearing the news about his death almost a year ago. But when I read about the other side of him as a human being it does make me stop and wonder about the question I posed earlier.
What do you think?
Do you have to be a Jerk to Succeed in Small Business?
October 27, 2012 5 Comments
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5 comments on “Do you have to be a Jerk to Succeed in Small Business?”