The Mac team knew that.
Every year, beginning in 1981, it gave out an award to the person who did the best job of standing up to him.
The award was partly a joke, but also partly real, and Jobs knew about it and liked it.
Joanna Hoffman won the first year.
From an Eastern European refugee family, she had a strong temper and will.
One day, for example, she discovered that Jobs had changed her marketing projections in a way she found totally reality-distorting.
Furious, she marched to his office.
"As I'm climbing the stairs, I told his assistant I am going to take a knife and stab it into his heart," she recounted.
Al Eisenstat, the corporate counsel, came running out to restrain her.
"But Steve heard me out and backed down." Hoffman won the award again in 1982.
"I remember being envious of Joanna,
because she would stand up to Steve and I didn't have the nerve yet,"
said Debi Coleman, who joined the Mac team that year.
"Then, in 1983, I got the award.
I had learned you had to stand up for what you believe, which Steve respected.
I started getting promoted by him after that."
Eventually she rose to become head of manufacturing.
One day Jobs barged into the cubicle of one of Atkinson's engineers and uttered his usual "This is shit."
As Atkinson recalled, "The guy said,
'No it's not, it's actually the best way,' and he explained to Steve the engineering trade-offs he'd made."
Jobs backed down. Atkinson taught his team to put Jobs's words through a translator.
"We learned to interpret 'This is shit' to actually be a question that means,
'Tell me why this is the best way to do it.'"
But the story had a coda, which Atkinson also found instructive.
Eventually the engineer found an even better way to perform the function that Jobs had criticized.
"He did it better because Steve had challenged him," said Atkinson,
"which shows you can push back on him but should also listen, for he's usually right."