A Tale of Two Princes: A Modern Day Story with a Machiavellian Twist (Part 2 of 3)
In Part 1 of this 3-Part post I talked about Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky and Apple’s Scott Forstall. More specifically Forstall being ousted from Apple and the fact that what likely played a role in the end of his career at the company was the fact that he was someone with whom it was difficult if not impossible to work. In short, Forstall produced results but in the process alienated almost everyone at Apple.
Despite being equally incorrigible, Microsoft’s Sinofsky appeared to be secure in his position based on his run of big successes as Windows Division President. Note my reference to the word “appeared.” Shortly after my post came out, Microsoft and Sinofsky parted ways.
Given these developments, in which two individuals who although very successful in terms of driving profits and innovation for their respective companies eventually wore out their welcomes, the question I had posed was whether from a career standpoint it is better to be loved or feared.
Or in the case of Sinofsky and Forstall, is it better to be successful or liked?
While the circumstances that inspire the question are new, the reflection relative to the possible answer is as old as the hills.
Despite generating huge profits for their investors, the humiliating end to their respective careers would seem to suggest that while success is important, it might ultimately take a back seat to one’s ability to work with and be liked by others. To a degree this is true.
However, I believe that we are not dealing with an either or answer. In fact if one is well liked but does not produce their fate is going to be similar to that of Sinofsky and Forstall. Within this context, the link that brings together success with likeability is respect.
Even though the two princes as I will call them produced impressive results, the potential respect this would have afforded them was undermined by their negative personalities. Conversely, you can be very popular, yet if you fail to produce, you may be liked but unlikely be respected.
It is through this lens of respect that we have to govern ourselves and ultimately our brand. In short you have to ask yourself the question, are my actions going to build or destroy people’s respect for me?