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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

A Productive Narcissist

Steve Jobs is one of the most creative business leaders of our time. His products combining technological innovation with beauty of design are a gift that keeps giving. But he is not a good model for others to imitate.

Who would want to follow a leader who is often insulting to his subordinates, who uses people only as long as he needs them and then discards them, and who demands that they are on call at all hours? Some people would and do, because Jobs creates great products that change people's lives and those who can stand him are inspired by him and can also make a lot of money. Steve Jobs is unique, but he resembles other leaders who want to change the world. I call them productive narcissists and in my book, "Narcissistic Leaders," I describe how they differ from the more respectful, conscientious and self-effacing leaders who are good at cutting costs and improving productivity, but who are not innovative entrepreneurs.

Narcissistic leaders often crash and burn because they bend the rules until they break. Or their grandiosity alienates others. Jobs was once fired from Apple, but when he returned, he learned from his failure and partnered with Tim Cook, a COO with the people skills Jobs lacks. I think those of us who have benefited from his genius wish him well.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  June 23, 2009; 9:24 AM ET
Category:  CEOs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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