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How strongly does business leadership correlate with extraordinary financial success?

Something I’ve always been suspicious about: Does good leadership really correlate with “breakthrough” financial success in business?

I’ve worked with some pretty good managers and leaders. We’ve done great work together, but obviously not “unicorn” level success. Don’t get me wrong, practicing good leadership has served me and the teams I’ve worked with well. We get great results while feeling like we have the best jobs in the world.

However, when I look at Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, the answer to “How well does good leadership correlate with ‘breakthrough’ success?” seems to be, “very weakly.” Maybe being an asshole is what it takes?

One thing I did not consider and a friend brought up though: Why is “breakthrough” financial success the goal? What if it’s “enough” success? As he said, the leaders at Thumbtack are doing everything correctly in terms of people and leadership… Sure they’re not at Uber’s $72 billion valuation, but their $1.7 billion is pretty darn good. Maybe they even get to feel good about their lives while they’re at it.