Do You Need to Be a Dick to Be a Successful Leader?

Think about some great leaders that you know. Are they kind of an a-hole? Film Director Max Joseph noticed a trend in the industry where it seemed as though the more abrasive and cutthroat someone was, the more successful leader they were. After his own experiences directing a film, he decided to explore this topic and produced an entertaining and insightful documentary about what it takes to get to the top. If you've ever directed a film, video, or photoshoot, there are quite a few nuggets of inspiration in this short that might help you to become a better leader yourself on your next project. Warning, some language is NSFW.

The short answer is no, you don't have to be a dick to be a great leader, but it is one approach. You do need a vision, passion, and to be as resourceful and as motivated as possible. There are lots of good books quoted in this doc, and if you're into reading and self-development, one that I might specifically call out is "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

For those of you who lead projects of any discipline, do you find yourself being a respected, effective leader? What's your strategy?

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9 Comments

I don't know about having to be one, but it sure does help a lot.

Anonymous's picture

It's but one approach. Easy to others with different approaches. There is a difference between being passionate and being a dick.

Allen Reid's picture

Watched this the other day. The video is well done, but his Trump bashing got a little old.

Ryan Mense's picture

Please don't be that person who takes Win Friends and Influence People way too seriously. Have you ever met someone like that? Oh. My. God.

Spy Black's picture

"Do You Need to Be a Dick to Be a Successful Leader?"

Steve Jobs immediately comes to mind. Not only do you need to be a dick, but apparently a spoiled brat and an asshole as well.

No, you don't have to be a dick but many seem to feel it is a shortcut.
The real problem is that dicks can shove their way forward without any real skill, talent or brains thus setting up disaster for the project.

I am fortunate enough to not have to work with dicks but there are sure a lot around.

Mike Schrengohst's picture

The low quality videography & sound along with the iPhone pov shots just took me right out of paying attention to the issue of being a "dick". Many out of focus shots, poor composition and editing just makes this video almost unwatchable. The guy had a good premise but poor execution just killed it. I did like the Peter Berg clip.

Usman Dawood's picture

Team America comes to mind lol.

Craig Tedeton's picture

Being a dick does appear to be the accepted character trait most associated with "successful" people.

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." - MLK Jr.
I prefer the situation to be....I bring the vision and push people toward it, by looking for commonality in approach and points of agreement. THEN, if that doesn't work....well you know what you have to pull out. :)