Do Great CEOs Have to Be Jerks?

Posted on March 5, 2007

An article on Business2.0 is defending bosses from hell. They use Apple's CEO Steve Jobs as an example.

Most books about leadership read like the Scout manual: CEOs and top managers should be authentic, considerate, sensitive, and modest, as well as creative, smart, and strategically brilliant. All true - but not very useful in the real world, where the person in the corner office might be as approachable as the junkyard dog.

Exhibit A: Steve Jobs.

Is he the charming, jeans-wearing CEO whose dramatic unveiling of the Apple (Charts) iPhone in January drove the stock up 8 percent by day's end? Or is he, as has been chronicled in several books, the classic jerk boss, notorious for belittling subordinates and business partners?

He's both, of course, and not much different from most executives: blessed with some attributes and cursed with others.

Everyone has flaws and that goes from both executives and employees. Steve Jobs appears to be much more under control today than he was as a CEO of the younger Apple during the Apple-Microsoft battles during the 80s. Not all bosses can get away with this kind of behavior. The article calls Michael Eisner an egomaniacal boss and he ended up resigning from Disney. Even Steve Jobs lost his CEO position during his younger days as Apple's CEO.

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