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To function semi-sanely in this world, we all have to make generalizations so that we can make sense of the world and to at least try to be able to predict future outcomes that result from our actions. It’s OK to make them as long as one realizes that there are exceptions to every generalization. There are very few, if any, absolutes in the world. Assuming that one’s personally concocted generalizations are absolutely 100% true all of the time invites “suffering“, no?

Take the mercurial CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, for example. He seems to be at least one exception to my personal generalization that “dictator” bosses can’t be successful in the long term (Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is another exception). Check out these blurbs that I pulled from cyberspace:

I think that one reason why Jobs and Apple achieve the stellar product and financial success that they do is because, even at the lofty CEO level, Mr. Jobs gets his hands dirty – and that endears him to the technical and creative talent that he does retain at the company. Contrast this to a Stalinist brute like “chainsaw” Al Dunlap, who lived in a separate world “above” his people.

How about you? Do you think that my “dictators can’t be successful leaders in the long run” generalization is valid in most cases? What’s your equivalent generalization?

  1. fishtator
    May 12, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I don’t believe that any management system that functions on the cult-of-personality dictatorship premise can sustain itself in the long run.

    One of the symptoms of dicatorship is that the clown in charge rules with an iron fist because he doesn’t believe that anyone else has the capability to do the job the way he does.

    And because they are so tyrannical, they can’t accept letting go and training their successor for an orderly transition. People age. Long term survival and success can only follow when the ‘charismatic’ leader can gracefully bow out at some point and hand the reigns off to the next generation. North Korea. Cuba. Kaddaffi, etc. What works (or doesn’t) in governments applies to business as well.

    Drink the Koolaid along with everyone else in Jobstown and you go down with the cult.

    • May 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Yeah, what works (or doesn’t) in governments applies to businesses as well. In “bad” governments, governees are stripped of their dignity and treated as dumb-ass children. In “bad” businesses, the same holds true – but it’s so subtle that the participants don’t seem to notice. Maybe that’s why the vast majority seems to give bad businesses a “free pass” while at the same time ripping bad governments.

  2. fishtator
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