Bob Sutton had a good post the other day on how Steve Jobs is the posterchild for the idea that even assholes can be successful. But as Bob says, "If you are successful asshole, you are still an asshole and I don’t want to be around you."
Why do assholes succeed? Does their brilliance make up for it? Do they just get lucky? Do people not care about likability as much as we think? Here’s a novel thought: assholes can unite the people around them. We all need a common bond:
“Having somebody who is really difficult can actually be good for the workplace,” said Jo-Ellen Pozner, a researcher in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. “If everyone really hates this one person, it becomes the basis of social bonding for the rest of the group.”