Imagine you have a skill so rare and so valuable that companies will pay tremendous amounts of money for access to your talent. They’ll go to great lengths to win you over because your extraordinary abilities can bring riches to your company, accolades to your boss, and thrills to your shareholders.

Because they–and you—believe you have a golden gut: flawless intuition and the confidence to act on it.

A golden gut can’t be learned or purchased. You either have it or you don’t, and you do. Your special abilities make you a rock-star sales manager, a gifted product leader, or a creative visionary.

You are special, and you make sure people know it. You’ve built a reputation, a career, and an income on that specialness.

But what good is being special if you don’t act special? You can do things other people can’t. You don’t have to live by the same standards. You follow your gut, not somebody else’s rules, and you will be forgiven and even admired when you go your own way.

That’s what you believe, and the company seems to believe it too.

Everybody has to be at the Monday roadmap meeting, or else. But sometimes you’re just too busy doing things you deem more important. What are they going to do, fire you?

HR gets upset when people tell insensitive jokes, but you can do it. If they wanna hit their quotas this month, they need to let you be. Besides, you’re funny! Anyone who can’t see that needs to put on their big-boy pants.

And nobody ever complains. Everyone seems to have a good time when you’re around. And at the end of each quarter, that includes the boss and the board. They know your gut is worth the investment. The numbers prove it.

But here’s what you don’t see:

The young associate who so hated working with you, she is now a rising star at the competition.

The son of immigrants who smiles at your jokes but goes home seething and sending out resumes.

The handful of people who are quietly meeting with an employment attorney.

The Glassdoor comments that scare away potential employees.

The drop in the team’s productivity.

And the person who will soon be your new boss, a person who doesn’t believe in golden guts.

This new boss will know your success is due to the quality of the product as much as to your skill. They will know that you are successful because you have a strong team.

Then they will see the harm you’ve inflicted on that team. They will look at the damage you’ve done to the company’s reputation and wonder when that damage will spread to shareholders. They will wonder how many great hires never gave the company a chance.

They will add up the cost of the turnover you’ve caused, the lawsuits and arbitrations you’ve spawned, the team’s reduced productivity and the reputational damage you’ve wrought. And they will realize, after all, you just aren’t worth it.

They’ll wonder why the company was paying for your gut while pretending the rest didn’t exist. They will figure out how to replace your capabilities without your crassness.

And so, you’ll be gone.

Because the new boss will focus on total performance, not just numbers. And they know that guts, golden or otherwise, only produce one thing.


To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Jerk Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from The audiobook is available from AmazonAudible and iTunes.

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Photo by Irena Carpaccio on Unsplash