Despite the widespread criticism of Steve Jobs's tyrannical style of leadership, nobody would debate that Jobs knew how to produce results.
One of the most remarkable things about Jobs's approach to managing is how no one--not even his closest colleagues--was immune to his abrasive criticism. In researching Jobs's life to write the script for director Danny Boyles's film Steve Jobs, which hits theaters Friday, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was struck by how often Jobs used intimidation to get the most out of Apple's employees.
During a panel discussion hosted by The New York Times Wednesday, Sorkin pointed out how Jobs's style of leadership represented the exact opposite approach of Boyle's--which he referred to as "supportive and encouraging"--though both men were tremendously skilled at motivating the people they worked with.
"It would never occur to me to try to get the best work out of somebody by trying to be mean to them," Sorkin said.
So why did Jobs insist on being cruel to his workers? The most logical answer is that Jobs's method consistently produced results without causing people to hold grudges against him. While Sorkin disagrees with Jobs's style of leadership, he was surprised by how many people who felt Jobs's wrath as a boss also had positive things to say about him.
"All of these people that I spoke to, who could tell you a not very nice story about Steve, are also eager to tell you that he made them better."
To hear more from the panel discussion, which included Sorkin, Boyle, and actress Kate Winslet, check out the video below.