It’s easy to joke about people with strong technical skills and less strong people skills. In many cases, we may avoid them or make fun. Do so with caution. The most common behavioral profile for a Fortune 500 CEO is Compliance (Quality) / Dominance (Urgency). Compliance and Urgency are strong traits in very famous people including Bill Gates (Microsoft), Elon Musk (Tesla), and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook). Each of them have had brilliant thoughts that have inspired and others that perhaps might have been better filtered.
Bill Gates writes “If you are born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor it’s your mistake.” With all his charity work, I suspect there’s more to this statement than what’s written. One I love is “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Elon Musk shares “I think it’s possible for ordinary people to do the impossible.” Elon Musk on allocating time for dating: “I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.” Ouch.
Sheryl Sandberg writes “We [women] hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” Some women interpreted this statement as ‘acting like a man’ and were offended. No one was offended by this quote by Ms. Sandberg “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.
Finally, Admiral Grace Hopper, one of the first women in computing, is credited with inventing the term ‘bug’ in software. She is quoted as saying “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that. That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise”. Seems a bit feisty. She also said “The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's simply larger than it needs to be. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission”. I can imagine Sheldon speaking these same words.
The moral of the story is just what your mother said – it takes all kinds. Each person brings something wonderful to the world, if we invite them to. Notice your blind spots and then help others who want to connect and make impact. We all have the opportunity to say words that inspire and deflate.