Business major

Avoid this major leadership mistake that got Steve Jobs fired from Apple

How would it feel to be fired by the company you started? It happens more often than you might think.

For example, what about the mastermind behind Apple who was ultimately fired by the tech giant’s board? Yes, Steve Jobs and his infamous rants and emotional outbursts on his co-workers led him down the road to dismissal (and as most know, Jobs returned to Apple with a different approach and mindset that cemented his legacy of the “right” side of the company. history).

A more recent and less well-known example is that of Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code. The founding premise of Bryant’s company is as the name suggests: Black girls can code software as well as anyone else. The business was started so girls could learn skills to get well-paying jobs and establish careers. But Bryant, a self-proclaimed “perfectionist,” was a demanding leader. Apparently, her leadership skills rubbed some employees the wrong way, and amid a list of complaints, she was removed as CEO in early 2022.


Add to the list Better.com CEO Vishal Garg (who left when a video of his mass firing went viral – and whose return sparked a new exodus of employees). Also recently, Peloton founder John Foley was asked to step down as CEO to take on the role of executive chairman.

Related: 5 Reasons Leaders Fail

What do these leaders seem to have in common? At one point, they embodied the Emperor’s mindset – and it cost them far more than a demotion.

The impostor versus the emperor syndrome

Imposter and Emperor are internal identities or personalities of an entrepreneur. Many entrepreneurs and business owners oscillate between each syndrome throughout their careers.

Impostor Syndrome denotes a strong sense of self-doubt in accomplishments, skills, and abilities. Those who experience this syndrome are certain that they are losers and have beliefs that are wrong until you do. They avoid new opportunities because they fear failure and avoid relationships because they fear exposure.

Emperor Syndrome is the other side of the spectrum. The euphoria that accompanies it can make people think they are superior. Entrepreneurs under his sway actually believe they know more than anyone else. Entrepreneurs with Emperor Syndrome refuse to take the advice of others and only give advice in the form of dictation. Emperors need competition to prove their worth as they only care about themselves and their reputation.

When these identities oscillate within the same psyche, an entrepreneur becomes an unfit leader, a leader with whom the best workers often have little to do.

Related: 10 Successful Leaders Share Their Struggles With Impostor Syndrome & How To Overcome It

Oscillating and combining personas cost money

Behaviors triggered by impostor or emperor syndrome will cost money – money that can put the business at risk. Here’s how it works: The impostor feels unworthy of success. This belief triggers behaviors such as withdrawal, indecision and sometimes aggression. At the same time, the Emperor says that to win, we must teach others to fear us. The Emperor triggers a double reaction, perceiving non-believers as enemies to be eliminated.

When an entrepreneur oscillates between the two identities, he is likely to act. It could manifest as a series of actions culminating in a scene that dominates the rumor mill for weeks – maybe even leaked to the press. This type of leadership disrupts employees’ efforts to be productive and get along. By eliminating trust, it can quickly destroy a company’s culture. Few people like working for an unhinged dictator.

Find the middle way instead

There is a better way than to oscillate between the Imposter and the Emperor. We call this the “middle way” because it balances and refines the extremes of both personalities.

The middle path is based on self-awareness and is a safer and safer way to earn money. Through self-awareness, an entrepreneur can observe their behaviors and learn to recognize when the Impostor or Emperor begins to creep into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

As they better recognize these dangerous emotional states, entrepreneurs gain the ability to step back and make better choices. Learning to recognize when these identities outgrow their state of mind is the byproduct of observing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors over time. Reviewing feedback will reveal a pattern, which shows how a person’s mindset impacts other people, events, and even their own success.

With practice, the beliefs and behaviors of the impostor and the emperor are replaced by the mindset of the explorer, who always seeks a better way of doing things for the greater good and takes the behavioral initiative in the development of the aligned mind.

Related: Mindset Hacks for Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Journey the Middle Path to an Aligned Mind

After discovering and choosing the middle path, an entrepreneur will be able to make better decisions, attract great people who also appreciate the middle path, and scale the business to eliminate entrepreneurial poverty.

The irony in all of this is that to be successful, early entrepreneurs and business owners must experience Impostor and Emperor mindsets. In fact, the Imposter brings much-needed humility while the Emperor ushers in courage. Refining these two useful identities takes time, guidance, and experience.

Fear neither the Imposter nor the Emperor. Instead, develop the self-awareness that will allow you to find and navigate the middle path to an aligned mind — and, ultimately, success.

Copyright 2022 Entrepreneur.com Inc., All Rights Reserved

This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com