Boris [Groysberg ] wrote me a pair of detailed notes about a series of case studies that he has done that track Lehman Brothers’ research department over a 20 year period. Boris reports that “the rule” [the no asshole rule] helped fuel the rise of the research department there, and then when it was abandoned, was linked to performance problems, and when it was reinstated, performance again improved.
It seems that while we love the myth of the brilliant-but-difficult star, the data doesn’t support our belief. Of course, there are exceptions. There are cases where one brilliant person is the pivot point for corporate success. But mostly it’s just bad behavior that supresses overall results.