Steve Jobs was known for being many great things: tech visionary, unstoppable entrepreneur and sales genius. He was also a complete asshole as a boss.
He expected nothing less than the impossible from the people he worked with. He was known to be the kind of boss that would bring employees to the brink of tears. According to Business Insider, he unceremoniously fired the team lead who created MobileMe, Apple’s first attempt at a cloud service, in front of his team at a public meeting because the product didn’t meet up to his standards.
No one was safe from his criticism, not even his close friend Jony Ive, the genius designer behind the iPhone and the iPad. In a conversation with Jobs that Ive told Vanity Fair about, Jony once brought up to Jobs the possibility of being a little less harsh in his criticism. Jobs ended up verbally slapping Ive in the face with the reason why he would never tone it down.
“I was having a conversation with him and I remember asking him why it could have been perceived in his critique of a piece of work he was a little bit too harsh. We’d been putting our heart and soul into this.
I said, couldn’t we be a bit more, couldn’t we moderate the things we said?
And he said, ‘Well, why?’
And I said, ‘Because I care about the team.’
And he said this brutally brilliantly insightful thing, what he said was, ‘No Jony, you’re just really vain.’
‘No, you just want people to like you. And I’m surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed you were perceived by other people.’
And I was terribly cross because I knew he was right.”
Jobs believed in being as direct, concise and unambiguous as possible, in being a boss who had a clear vision of what was expected. If something wasn’t up to par, it needed to be known, no matter how painful the criticism would be to the person who toiled over the product. Being liked in the office was a priority far below producing the best possible products in the market for Jobs. It’s tough, but it pays off.
Brutally honest feedback should be one of the most important factors in any creative process, though Ive admits that he is a little calmer than Jobs in his feedback to his teammates. When the quality of your work is the most important factor in your success, take a note from Jobs’ philosophy and never strive for anything less than perfection from yourself and your employees — that’s how good entrepreneurs become great.
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