Steve Jobs is admired by almost everybody on the planet. However, many employees and co-workers have said that Steve was dominating and even abusive. I don’t know the authenticity of the stories but they make you ask an important question: Is success more important than compassion and respect?
I will confess something: I was attracted to abusive geniuses and for a long time, I justified what they did. My logic was even if Steve was dominating, his work benefited the humanity. I thought that people like Steve were ‘superior’ to the rest of the mankind and it is not wrong to dominate when you are clearly better than others. I guess, when you grow up in an environment where social status or success is more important than authenticity or integrity, you tend to think like this. This could be the reason why I valued success more than basic humanity.
A human being needs many things besides food, clothing and shelter. Every human being wants to live a life of dignity and respect. Every human being also needs freedom. These are not luxurious needs, they are vital for our survival. When you dominate, you are basically saying that the other human being is not an equal. You are superior to this person for whatever reason and because of this superiority, the other person must obey you. The reasons for superiority could be anything: money, talent, morality, kindness etc. Your view is correct and the other person is wrong. Sure, it was Steve’s company and if you work for him, you have to follow HIS vision. But what is not acceptable is not having the basic respect for a human being’s subjective world. You might find a person mediocre and maybe, you are a genius but that doesn’t give you the right to bully a person. Some parents think that hitting a child is alright because they clearly know more than their child. It’s of course your responsibility to correct your child but physical and verbal violence is abuse of power. How you treat a vulnerable person or a person whose world view is completely different than you, says a lot about you as a person.
How will this strategy serve you? If you are going to be an asshole, people will only work under CCTVs. When there will be no supervision, there will be no motivation to do any work. If you are handling creative people, how are you going to ‘manufacture’ creativity through fear? In my personal experience, creativity (to a large extent) comes from within and if you are a dictator, there is no way a creative person will thrive under you. Of course, sometimes, fear works..even for creativity. But you cannot sustain it for a long time. You need inner resources to do that. Even if the job doesn’t require creativity, you still don’t have a right to be mean to a human being.
Even for ‘success’ in the long run, you need to treat people with basic decency. But here’s the problem: if you adopt this as a strategy i.e. if you are nice to people so that they co-operate with you, so that they become pawns on the chessboard, it won’t work. Only when you truly believe that the subjective world of each human being is important will you get co-operation from others. If you want others to support your vision and your dreams, you need to respect their dreams and visions as well.