Tag Archives: Apple

Star Employees: Worth The Cost?

Apple's iconic CEO, Steve Jobs, left a legacy of products that have impacted the very ways in which we live and interact. Can the same always be said of other "star" employees -- or do the costs sometimes outweigh the benefits?

The passing of Apple’s legendary leader, Steve Jobs, brought with it a remarkable flood of poignant tributes from every corner.  Many noted his amazing impact – as inventor, leader, and visionary – on the way we communicate, work, and entertain ourselves.   There is no doubt that his influence and vision will live on in the products and company he created.

At the same time, a relatively small proportion of these retrospectives noted the downside of Jobs’ brilliant characteristics – a demanding nature that could often demean employees.  It seems that his famous creative and inspiring temperament simultaneously wrought “the bullying, manipulation and fear that followed him around Apple.”  This has led me to reflect this week on the costs and benefits of “star” employees in  organizations.

In Jobs’ case, his inordinate gifts seem to have far outweighed – though didn’t excuse – his negative impact. Of course, as founder/CEO, his role was quite different than the “hired hand” position of even the most valuable employee.   I wonder, though, if the benefits of “star” employees in organizations outweigh the true costs in many cases.  Here are a few examples from throughout my career.

Product Creator / Collaboration Destroyer

This employee is revered for their ability to consistently create products that take the company’s line to the next level.  To the good, they can serve to inspire other employees to “raise their game” and Continue reading