Home > Uncategorized > Does success forgive everything?

Does success forgive everything?

Will you work for this man?

  • He asks you the questions he knows you can’t answer, and he keeps going and going. It isn’t funny, and it’s not fun.
  • He is described as a workaholic who begins emailing his underlings at 4:30 am each morning.
  • He prides himself on being the first into the office and the last one out.
  • At IBM, he volunteered to work in the factory on Christmas and New Year’s day. He expects similar commitment from others.
  • He once dispatched an underling straight from a meeting at headquarters in Cupertino to the airport bound for China, without time even to pack a change of clothes or figure out a return date.
  • He often holds a Sunday night telephone meeting in order to prepare for more meetings on Monday.
  • When entering a lift, he doesn’t bother talking to any employee that may be in it already.

Seemingly many thousands do. Presumably happily.

After all he just became CEO of one of the most successful companies of all time.

We’ve all read about these practices of  Tim Cook, new CEO of Apple.

In so many ways it seems to go contrary to everything one is taught about managing people.

‘Treat talent with respect’ seems to be a common thread through everything I have learnt from talent masters. It’s not about being lenient or kind. It’s about respect.

At a very simple level it however gets trumped by ‘ensure your company is super successful’, in which case the pride of working for the company, and the quality of the work you do over rides the seemingly bullying quality of your superior.

Does the choice have to be between ‘kind management’ and ‘brilliant success’?

Those in the ‘knowledge’ industry, by which I mean those where the product is ‘intangible’ and dependent on people’s skills like Google, Infosys, WPP, McKinsey etc, having a more balanced approach to talent reaps great benefit.

However in the manufacturing industry perhaps one can get away with a harder hand? Witness Welch, Jobs, Cook?


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  1. September 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    This post makes me sad.

    Whether these anecdotes are true or not, it’s a symptom of a lack of trust & faith in your staff (or underlings). If they truly aren’t capable of being responsible, then part of the problem lies with your HR/hiring policies. Or your management effectiveness – there is no success without a clear definition of goals, realistic delegation and ensuring accountability. Or…there are several other reasons.

    And if they are capable of being responsible, then I agree that having a harder hand seems misplaced. We’re dealing with human beings here, not emotionless automatons. In time, your staff will start to question the prestige of working for a big brand vs. the stress they have to endure as a result. They’ll either burn out or leave.

    And even more ‘tangible’ companies like Zappos are making headlines with their kinder, gentler approach to talent management.

    It’s time for a talent management & development overhaul. Command and control structures are losing ground. Many voices of reason are initiating the change – I hope that many more chime in soon, for the sake of our common sanity.

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