Over the years, we've heard countless stories about Shigeru Miyamoto being a somewhat difficult person to work with. He's got an eye for detail that very few others have, and he sticks to some of his visions extremely closely. He's also known for upending a tea table from time to time, although not too long ago he said he's moved on from those days.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Miyamoto talks about how his staff views him, and his approach as a boss. Check out his comments below.
When people look at me, I think they probably imagine that I’m very nice. But if you asked the people on the front lines, those who actually work with me, they might say that I’m very picky, or that I always comment on their work. I’ve had the pleasure of growing up in an environment where people praised me. But I’m aware that there is a feeling, among people who work with me, that they do not receive adequate praise, that I’m always fastidious about their work.
In this job, we have to create a product, which requires a certain amount of planning. But it’s also important to talk about those plans in a different register, not just as a product, but as if it were a dream, or vision. I think my strength is that I’m able to paint a compelling picture of what a project can be, while also being concerned with the details of actually realizing that dream. As such, I get the somewhat confused experience of people seeing me as a negative person when I’m dealing with the details, and as a very positive person when I’m talking in terms of broader vision.
I also believe that a shared feeling of success should come only after the players have actually enjoyed a game. Before that point, people might see me as a mean boss, trying to drive us through the rough patches. But I think that’s what dictates whether someone is a good leader or not.
When people are trying to create new experiences, there’s always a level of insecurity and worry. But there’s also an appreciation for people who have experience, who can reassure us that things will work out. That’s how I see my role: it’s being a team supporter as much as a creative leader. I’m aware of the vulnerability involved when someone brings me an idea or a concept. I take great care not to shut the person down, and try to take their suggestion on its own terms. The only thing I’m focussed on is making sure that people are trying to create new experiences. That kind of focus keeps everyone, including myself, from becoming entrenched. I hope it also contributes to my being considered a good boss.