A recent article in Fortune magazine about Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed that the brilliant visionary also bullies his employees. He parks his Mercedes in handicapped spaces, periodically reduces subordinates to tears, and fires employees in angry tantrums, it reads.
This raises the question of whether a manager should exercise patience and sensitivity or skip the niceties and just demand compliance and yell at will.
A trio of pundits on CNBC debated this issue and agreed that if a leader produces great bottom-line results (as Jobs has done), then the end justifies the means, and it's OK to push people and rebuke them harshly.
But the pundits neglected to consider how we respond to a dictator. We may retain less than 50 percent of what we read and hear. But we remember 100 percent of what we feel.
If an abrasive manager makes a worker feel worthless, you can bet those feelings will not evaporate quickly. An employee's pent-up bitterness can explode at the worst possible moment.
Even if he accepts his boss's punishing insults meekly, he will operate out of fear. That's hardly a recipe for workplace harmony.
Manage effectively by choosing what you want people to feel. Then nurture those feelings. By fostering a sense of belonging and an excitement about the organization's mission, you can set high standards and demand excellence without breeding a fear-based culture.