I recently read the biography of Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-Walter-Isaacson/dp/1451648537#reader_B004W2UBYW
I didn’t know much about Jobs and I found the book fascinating. I loved the way Jobs was totally focused on creating the perfect, beautifully designed, product, i.e. iPhone, iPad, iPod. His creative vision was astonishing. His mantra was to put a dent into the universe; and he did. Boy did he change our world and our culture. Jobs was driven and had a laser focus. But what was it like to work with him?
According to the book, he had a habit of telling employees their ideas were shit, then later claiming that their ideas were his. Employee A would explain a new idea or concept to Jobs, and Jobs would proclaim the idea was SHIT. Later they would be in a meeting and Jobs would announce his new idea and it would be the same as mentioned by Employee A. How’s that to take the wind out of your sails? Feeling low, experience this type of behavior and you will sink to a newer low. This behavior is like stealing from the employees. It robs the employee and steals their soul.
Jobs had the unique ability of either destroying an employee or pushing them to achieve beyond their potential. If the employee was strong enough to withstand Jobs’ put downs, the employee could be pushed to achieve feats that were thought to be impossible. The book describes Jobs distortion reality field When employees were in Jobs presence, Jobs could distort reality and have the employees believing that the impossible could not only be done, but could be done in under two weeks. Once the employees were out of Jobs’ presence, reality returned and the employees were faced with inventing difficult software and doing it in an unrealistic time frame. The funny thing was that because of this distortion reality field, items and feats were achieved that might never have been done.
Jobs was difficult because he didn’t read people’s emotions or didn’t care about their emotions. He was driven to make the perfect product and people’s feelings just weren’t that important. Some people just couldn’t work with that behavior and quit. Others tolerated his bad behavior because he was brilliant and they were excited to be part of the process.
This worked for Apple and Jobs but it doesn’t work for the rest of the work world. Taking people’s ideas and claiming them as your own, would make you a hated and despised boss. Telling people their work is SHIT isn’t going to motivate anyone.
You motivate employees by inspiring them, not putting them down or using fear management. To inspire someone you must set the example and do it from a positive space.