Fortune Magazine called him a corporate dictator.
“Not only did he control every aspect of product design, he also weighed in on the glass stairs in Apple stores (for which he held a patent), the design of the Apple shuttle buses, and the food in the cafeteria, to cite a few examples,” Chunka Mui wrote for Forbes.
He revolutionized the computing world, and then he was fired from his company. He was re-hired, and then he revolutionized the computing world, again.
If it wasn’t clear that we’re talking about Steve Jobs, you’d be asking yourself, “who the heck is this guy?”
The fact is that it was his idiosyncrasies that fueled his success. Sometimes he was brilliant, and sometimes he was a jerk. But he still did great things for the world because at the end of the day, he was true to himself. He changed for no one. He conformed to no one’s standards. He dropped out of Reed college with absolutely no career prospects or safety net to chase a dream. He did what he wanted.
You may not want to go out and hire a corporate dictator (or do you?), but you definitely want hires with strong personalities. Sure, some people will find them annoying, but these out-of-the-box traits are what underscore sheer brilliance. Steve Jobs wasn’t perfect, and without a doubt, he made some people really, really angry. But who cares? He left a legacy that nobody will ever doubt.
You’ve probably come across a lot of articles about how passionate or brilliant Steve Jobs was. Heck, you’ve probably heard about his amazing imagination, perfectionism, and drive for excellence. As great as he was though, he was flawed. Very flawed. And it was those flaws that made him all the more awesome.
As a recruiter, CEO, or business owner, you probably keep your eyes peeled for your candidates’ strengths. But pay equal attention to the characteristics that are — well, a little less desirable. Maybe they’re antisocial. Or borderline obsessive. Or workaholics. Or heavily opinionated. Or kind of annoying. Or they can’t punctuate a sentence worth beans. Maybe that flawed trait is exactly what you need to balance your team and position your company towards greater success. The workplace is so much better when you have brilliant people who aren’t afraid to stand out and be themselves. Follow these lessons from Steve Jobs, the most loved and criticized man of the 21st Century.
1. Find employees who own their mistakes
“Jobs could be harsh and even thoughtless,” said Mashable writer Lance Ulanoff. “Perhaps nowhere was that more in evidence than with his first daughter. Still, as Jobs grew older and began to face mortality, he more readily admitted their mistakes.”
All people have glaring flaws, but most people hide them. Instead of forcing people to adopt a false persona, why not embrace people for who they are? Flaws and all? Isn’t it better when we can just own up to the qualities that cast us in the worst light possible?
It takes an amazing person to admit that she’s wrong.
2. Relentless, judgmental perfectionists aren’t half bad
“Steve believed that A players hire A players — that is people who are as good as they are,” cnet writer Guy Kawasaki wrote. “I refined this slightly — my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called ‘the bozo explosion’ to happen in your organization.”
Bozo explosion? Isn’t that kind of harsh? Yes, but rightfully so. Candidates aren’t created equally, and you need A players who are confident enough to hire amazing people. All the better if your employees are a little judgmental too. Why not look at fellow-employees with a critical eye? It’s that attitude that motivates people to excel and become better.
If you think that Apple was built on Jobs’s brilliance alone, you’re wrong. Apple has thousands and thousands of brilliant minds, including top-ranking executives. One of Steve Jobs’s greatest legacies was the team that he built and left behind.
“Apple could have the most amazing management team in the world, but none of us would talk about it, because Steve Jobs was that good of a CEO,” Erick Jackson wrote in an article for The Street. “He was so charismatic, that he could overshadow Bill Clinton and the Vanity Fair after-party at the Oscars, combined.”
3. Tact as virtue? No way, it’s a waste of time
“Apple’s founder was famous for his outbursts and sometimes over-emotional responses,” Ulanoff wrote. “In product development, things were often amazing or sh*t.”
Steve’s closest personal connections will attest to the fact that he had a strange combination of characteristics. He was emotional, passionate, and downright mean. But when he had something to say, it was brilliant.
Why waste time sugar coating constructive feedback? Look for people who aren’t afraid to be blunt and who can be equally receptive to criticism. Say what you think to keep your business moving (and growing) as fast as possible. It’s tough love, not aggression.
Embrace flaws. They’ll make your world (and company team) all the more beautiful. Why strive for perfectionism when it’s possible to aim for pure awesomeness? Be unique, and don’t be afraid to build a team of the strongest personalities you’ve ever met. They’ll fight, clash, and struggle epically, but at the end of the day, they’ll figure it. They’ll hug it out, learn to play in the sandbox, complement each other — whatever. They’ll rock.