How Steve Jobs Made It Okay To Be an Asshole

Illustration for article titled How Steve Jobs Made It Okay To Be an Asshole

There are many, many things to recommend Steve Jobs: his brilliance. His commitment to excellence. His marketing savvy. And apparently, among a whole swath of CEOs, the fact that he could be a colossal jerk. But not so fast!

The Atlantic takes a look at Jobs and "asshole logic," a particular sort of correlation/causation confusion that leads some management types to think that because Jobs often brought his employees to tears, they should as well. It's a problem exacerbated by the popularity of Walter Isaacson's recent Jobs biography:

With the death and canonization of Steve Jobs and the emergence of the Jobs biography as a kind of sacred text for managers, the ranks of bosses who see Bad Steve's nastier traits as something to imitate is liable to swell. It's unlikely the book will make despots out of thoughtful, fair-minded middle managers. It's far more probable that it will turn bosses who are already assholes into even bigger assholes, raising the temperature of the worst actors so that they become that most combustible of workplace figures, the flaming asshole.


But, of course, Jobs could afford to be an asshole because he was all of those other wonderful things, not the other way around. So remember that, middle managers of the world: unless you've got enough intellect, creativity, and drive that people will accept your behavior on any terms (and trust me, you don't), it might not hurt to play it nice. [The Atlantic]

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It's never okay to be an asshole, especially not when you KNOW you're being one.