Welcome to the “CEO Series”. Here, we talk about how entrepreneurs learn to become great CEOs, as the greatest technology companies in history, most often than not, are led by people like them.
The founder of Y-Combinator, Paul Graham who has not been writing for quite some time, posted an article “Mean People Fail” on his blog yesterday (at the time this article was written in the original post). He talked about successful technology entrepreneurs he is acquainted with, that almost all of them are leaders who are friendly and have a warm personality, and that may be the reason of their success.
The article is not long, I recommend you have a read, but if I were to pick out the most essential part, it is this:
“Another reason mean founders lose is that they can’t get the best people to work for them. They can hire people who will put up with them because they need a job. But the best people have other options. A mean person can’t convince the best people to work for him […] And while having the best people helps any organization, it’s critical for startups.”
Unlike the reigning champions, challengers who are new to the game very often are found to be in an inferior position in terms of funding, brand, subscriber base, channel and supply chain. There is only two kinds of levers they can rely on to break out of their predicament, which are technology and talent. And talent is the source of technology. Therefore, owning the best people is the most critical match point.
Under extreme circumstances, a new company indeed can reach success in the short run with a super-founder and a bunch of average employees. But if you are looking for a position in the market that would continue to elevate, you will need to attract top talents to join the force.
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Which is also why, if the leader is mean and self-centered, and is someone who only wants to undermine his employees to make himself look great, or who simply lacks the ability to understand how his co-workers feel, then in the long run, this enterprise would most probably head towards failure.
Of course, other than failure in the long run, an enterprise led by a mean boss would also face many hidden disadvantages. With regards to this issue, you could refer to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, that happens to be on the same subject, “The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss”.
It is stated in the article that enterprises with a stressful working environment have to take care of health care expenditures for co-workers that is 46 percent more than other enterprises on average. There is even research reporting that a leader’s style of management would affect to a great deal, the chances of a co-worker being affected by heart disease.
On the other hand, a leader who is warm and has a positive personality, not only will be more trusted by his co-workers and raise productivity, but this kind of positive energy would even spread to the customers through their services and make them happier and healthier too.
The article even suggests leaders to be passionate about their organization, be devoted to it as well as be willing to sacrifice for it, as such way of leading by example is the best way to inspire co-workers to be more committed.
The truth is, we all have learnt the moral of the story from “The North Wind and the Sun” since we were small. So at the end of the day, it is whether we put our effort to becoming the warm Sun or not that matters.
This article is originally written by Jamie Lin, a well-published author based in Taiwan. The article is translated from Chinese by Loh Sin Yee and is reproduced here with permission. Images were added into the article for visual purposes.