Thursday, April 5, 2012
Weird’s Deep Thoughts (Thursday Insight Edition): Do Successful CEOs Have to Be Pricks?
Since Walter Isaacson's portrait was published shortly after [Steve] Jobs's death last October at the age of 56, some executives have treated it as a sort of management bible, raiding it for nuggets of inspiration. It's not surprising that Walter Isaacson's biography is being picked up by aspiring managers who want to replicate Apple’s success. The book is full of examples of how to run a successful business, innovate, negotiate and get the best out of people.
Ultimately, a reader comes away from the book with a greater appreciation for the chief executive. Unfortunately, that CEO is not Mr. Jobs, whose successes are well known. It is Bill Gates, the co-founder and former chief executive of Microsoft Corp. ….This isn't to say, Mr. Gates got it right and Mr. Jobs got it wrong. Their successes and failures are well-known. Mr. Jobs's products are elegant, Mr. Gates's are nerdy. Mr. Jobs was uncharitable. Mr. Gates has spent his fortune on charity. Mr. Jobs drove hard bargains and used monopoly power to shut out collaborators. Mr. Gates sometimes did the same, but his product philosophy was more about sharing and openness.
Mr. Isaacson's monument underscores contrasts between Messrs. Jobs and Gates, while showing in stark detail the pickle of modern-day management: Can a chief executive be successful, drive innovation and create elegant products? The answer is yes. Can the CEO do the same thing without humiliating dedicated employees, making a wreck of his or her personal life and eschewing any sort of social responsibility? That's not so easy. In other words, could the same Apple have been reinvigorated by someone who didn't have Mr. Jobs's penchant for teenage narcissism? Does a leader have to bully and humiliate someone to drive him or her to perfection?
Read more at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304072004577324302362266304.html?mod=mktw