He was one of a kind, probably a genius. Letâ€™s call him Steve. Steve was an engineer who worked his way up to designing unique systems. His work had won important contracts and acclaim. He had garnered a pocketful of patents.
To the outside world, Steve was something special. He got along really well with clients and folks he thought were intelligent. To others, Steve could be a real pain in the neck.
Steveâ€™s philosophy was â€œItâ€™s about the work and getting it done. Either do it or donâ€™t. If you donâ€™t, youâ€™re gone. In the meantime, get over whatâ€™s bothering you. Weâ€™ve got work. Itâ€™s about the work and getting it done.â€ Steve was a productive guy.
When the business Steve worked for was in good times, they let Steve have his way. His work was impeccable. His handpicked team understood his gruff, no-nonsense style and performed well. Their jobs came in under budget, on time, and with kudos from clients. The problem began when work started to slow.
People at the company began to worry whether they would still have work. They looked for reasons that the company was slow for work. Of course, only the folks at the top knew the reasons for sure, but that didnâ€™t stop everyone from needing to have some. One of the reasons they came up with was Steve. People at the company started to discuss his flaws. The biggest of which was he didnâ€™t treat people nicely.
People remembered slights and sharp words. The circumstances and his personality led to complaints about him. In the end, despite his stellar talent, his unique systems, and patents, Steve was dismissed because he didnâ€™t understand a critical issue.
Being good at what you do is important, but a strong personal identity includes both good and easy to work with.
A company will make room for idiosyncracies that donâ€™t upset the balance or upset the people. Talent and unique skills are good when they move things forward, but not good when they become the conversation or when they get in the way of the work.
Would you rather work for someone good who is nice or someone stellar who is not?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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