Star performance doesn’t trump interpersonal problems


Movie mogul Mark Gill, the guy who produced blockbusters on a shoestring like “March of the Penguins” ($77 million at the box office) and “Good Night, and Good Luck” (six Oscar nominations) has been fired. Well, officially resigned, but really he was pushed out because he can’t get along with his boss.

The New York Times reports that, “Mr. Gill’s personal style continually clashed with that of Jeff Robinov, Warner’s president of production and Mr. Gill’s boss.”

About a year ago, Gill knew there was a problem and said, “I definitely had to make some adjustments to fit into this culture.” But he obviously did not make the necessary changes. No surprise. The more you feel like a star, the more you feel like you don’t need to change.

But don’t kid yourself that doing great work for your company means you don’t have to adjust your attitude and behavior to fit in. Even a guy who produces the most popular documentaries of the year has to get along with his boss in order to keep his job.

This is not revolutionary management. In fact there’s a Harvard Business Review case study (that you have to pay for) called “What a Star – What a Jerk” that discusses the need to fire people who perform well but don’t mesh with the organization.

But, like most case studies about interpersonal skills, you don’t need to read twenty pages to know the truth: If you don’t like someone, nothing else about them matters.

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