Who is the most sharp-elbowed CEO you know, and have they been successful? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
It would seem from the outside that in order to win big you have to be a complete a#$hole, but there are multiple versions of the truth about SES (sharp elbow syndrome) I've learned.
For example, Jeff Bezos was recently absolutely destroyed as tyrant in the New York Times (), which claimed it talked to hundreds of employees for the story. Of course, thousands and thousands of executives are massively loyal to Jeff Bezos, staying at the company for decades.
Then you have Steve Jobs having an entire movie crafted around his bad behavior with the same exact trend: thousands and thousands of employees being massively loyal to him.
The list goes on and on ... Travis, Gates, Elon, etc.
Clearly the most successful folks in the world are loathed by one vocal group while being loved by another, which to me means that certain folks like different types of leaders.
Some team members want to go to war with someone who demands greatness and sacrifice; others want to feel good and have their emotions validated.
At the end of the day, what one person sees as sharp elbows another person sees as inspirational leadership.
I will say, that there is no excuse for treating people poorly on a one-to-one basis. If someone isn't up for demanding leadership, well, you should fire that person quickly -- not yell at them. That's where things go over the line for me and where, I hope, I've learned to be a better leader.
Gates, according to many, used to destroy folks when he was young on a very personal basis -- before firing them. I think the better thing to do is just recognize that someone sucks and get them out before you explode.
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