Steve Jobs

Almost everyone has probably heard of Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Inc. Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are widely recognized as pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.  In addition to being a great innovator, Jobs was known as a passionate leader who got the most out of his team.  There was an article published on the Windsor Training Blog under the title, "Riding the Sh*thead-Hero Rollercoaster: six insights from the the leadership style and personal philosophy of Steve Jobs."  The six insights are:

1) A belief in teamwork Jobs once said in interview that his model for business was the Beatles. He believed that the four band members balanced each other out and that together the total was greater than the sum of the parts. They were a collection of egos and individual talents, but together they kept each other’s negative tendencies in check. That’s how he saw business and he believed that great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people. Probably the time in his life that this held most true was in the development of the Mac. Jobs was not unaware that he could be difficult to live with, which is why he relied on the talents of a good team around him in order to challenge him and help drive the success of the business forward.

2) Manage the ‘top line’ Jobs declared that what was important was to manage the ‘top line’ - by which he meant the business strategy, the people, and your products - and the bottom line will follow. By focussing on what the business does best and doing it well, then the organisation should be able to deliver the expected profits. Rather than on focusing too much on the bottom line, at the expense of the fundamental and core activities of the business. This is a sobering lesson for many businesses overly obsessed by the need to show the City or Wall Street consistent quarterly returns, rather than focusing on strategy, people and products.

3) Trusting your team to deliver Despite Jobs’ own egotism he was a firm believer in the need for selecting a strong team and this is why he gathered around him such stellar talents as his chief designer, Johnathan Ives. For Jobs, teamwork was about trusting the other members to deliver, without watching them all the time, but believing that they are going to come through with their parts, when needed. The lesson here is to ensure that you gather around you a team that you can trust to share your mission and who do not need to be supervised and overseen on a regular basis.

4) Find what you love When Jobs delivered the commencement speech to the students of Stanford University, he famously exhorted them to find what they love, declaring it to be ‘as true for work as it is for your lovers’. He urged them not to settle for anything less and implored them that they would know when they find it. He went on to say that he remembered a quote that had inspired him, ““If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”[i] Jobs urged an uncompromising focus on what you love the most and not to settle for anything less than what you love to do.

5) Passion People who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world, are the ones that actually do. This point naturally stems from the previous one. Whilst Jobs might have been many things, he certainly didn't lack passion for what he did, in the products that he delivered and for the various successful businesses that he built. Both Apple and Pixar were built upon his passion and commitment.

6) “Good artists copy, great artists steal” In giving this quote from the artist Pablo Picasso, Jobs was acknowledging that there is nothing new under the Sun and that many of the things that you do, may have been done by someone else at some time before you. This goes for business, just as much as your personal life – the iPod was not new, instead it applied design flair to existing MP3 player technology. To achieve this end, he declared the need to ‘expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then bring those things into what you are doing’ – something that he certainly achieved, bringing artistic influences into his styling and design.