STEVEN PAUL "STEVE" JOBS – an innovator, an inspiration, a leader, a genius
Leadership as a topic has been touched upon by almost everyone & this becomes as integral part of almost all development programes. Quite a few of the generic points have been covered & certain new perspectives have also come up in the answers.The question is which one is the most essential of all? From my point of view leadership can be seen in a lot of ways but the most important way to understand it is by relating it to yourself or to foresee it from a person success. Sometimes you don’t have to be the most powerful person to be a good leader .As it comes from within, it can be seen by the way you act, the way u handle things, the way you manage people around you.
If I were to choose one of the best leaders in the world, I would go for Steve job. Sharing his leadership success will never be a waste. Not only did Steve Jobs build the world’s largest company, he succeeded in changing the world. In fact, in many ways his products and ideas have influenced almost everyone on our planet. From iTunes to the iPhone and the iPad, Apple’s brand and products extend to every corner of the globe and are present in almost every decision made in the consumer electronics market. The battle between Mac and PC users is nothing less than personal. You’re either one or the other, and you support your decision with a full heart. Someone is a Republican or Democrat, on Sprint or on T-mobile, a Mac or a PC. Well, you get the idea. No matter your opinion on Apple, its products, or of Steve Jobs’ leadership philosophies, we should all be able to agree that Jobs was an innovator and almost single-handedly changed the world.
The 10 Lessons of Steve Jobs are excerpts from Walter Isaacson’s, “The Real Lessons of Steve Jobs,” published in the Harvard Business Review, April 2012.
For the iPod, Jobs’ Zen simplicity shinned through when he eliminated the on/off button. The device gradually powered down, and flashed on when reengaged. Jobs also developed complex systems with integrated hardware and software so the user devices could be simple and focused on a few tasks. An ecosystem—an iPod connected to a Mac connected to an iTunes store—allowed for a division of labor. The MAC could handle system administration, freeing the portable devices play music or show videos. Later, Jobs aimed for mobile phones, and he would grab a competitor’s phone and rant that features could not be navigated, including the address book. His iPhone did not need a user’s manual. At the end of his career, Jobs rethought the television industry, so people could click and watch what they wanted. He dreamed up ways to make television simple and personal.
Apple took end-to-end responsibility for the user. From the performance of the ARM microprocessor to the experience in an Apple Store, everything was tightly linked. Part of Jobs’ compulsion for “the whole widget” stemmed from his controlling personality. But it was also driven by his passion for perfection. The strategy set Apple apart from competitors.
Innovators don’t have to be pioneers. With the original iMac, Jobs focused on managing photos and videos, but not music. People were downloading music and then burning their own CDs. The iMac’s drive couldn’t burn CDs. Jobs said, “I thought we had missed it.” But instead of upgrading the iMac’s CD drive, he created an integrated system that transformed the music industry. The combination was iTunes, the iTunes Store, and the iPod, which allowed users to buy, share, manage, store, and play music better than any other way. After the iPod became a huge success, Jobs thought phone makers might displace it by adding music in the handsets, so he preempted them with the iPhone.
Jobs’ (in)famous ability to push the impossible was dubbed his Reality Distortion Field, after an episode of in which aliens create an alternative reality through sheer will. An early example was when Jobs was on the night shift at Atari and pushed Steve Wozniak to create a game called Breakout. Woz said it would take months, but Jobs stared at him and insisted he could do it in four days. Woz ended up doing it.
With the iPhone, Jobs found plastic scratched easily and decided the face had to be glass. He met with Wendell Weeks, CEO of , who told him that Corning had developed a chemical process in the 1960s that led to “Gorilla glass.” Jobs said he wanted a major shipment of Gorilla glass in six months. Weeks said that Corning was not making the glass. “Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. A stunned Weeks, who was unfamiliar with Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field, tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not trump engineering challenges. Jobs didn’t accept that premise. He stared unblinking at Weeks. “Yes, you can do it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.” Weeks recalls his astonishment and then called the managers of Corning’s facility in Kentucky making LCD displays, and told them to convert immediately to Gorilla glass full-time. “We did it in under six months.”
Jobs personally spent time designing the jewel-like boxes for the iPod and iPhone and listed himself on the patents. He believed that unpacking was a ritual and heralded the glory of the product. For the iPhone, the initial design had the screen surrounded by an aluminum case. The problem was that the iPhone should have featured the display, not the case. The team changed it so the glass display was the phone.
Jobs’ rudeness was packaged neatly with the diametrically opposed push for inspiration. He infused Apple employees a belief that they could accomplish anything. His rough treatment reflected a desire to work with the best and prevent “the bozo explosion,” in which managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable staying. Jobs said, “Maybe there’s a better way—a gentlemen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in this Brahmin language and velvet code words—but I don’t know that way, because I am middle-class from California.”
Jobs believed creativity comes from spontaneous meetings. “You run into someone, and ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.” The Pixar building’s design promoted unplanned encounters around an atrium. He commented if a building didn’t encourage innovation, you lose the magic sparked by serendipity.
Jobs’ passion was applied to issues both large and small. Some CEOs are great at vision; others know that God is in the details. In 2000 he came up with the grand vision that the personal computer should become a hub for managing all of a user’s content, and got Apple into personal-devices. In 2010 he came up with the successor strategy—the hub would be consumed by the cloud—and Apple began building a huge server farm to upload and sync content to personal devices.
Jobs asserted his counterculture personality in ads, proclaiming his hippie beginnings. When he returned to Apple, Jobs helped write the text for the “Think Different” ads: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes…” If there was any doubt that, consciously or not, he was describing himself, he dispelled it with the last lines: “While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” In his commencement address to Stanford, he admonished students to follow their own dreams, and not to get caught up in living someone else’s life.
On the other hands, focusing on the success stories would not be enough to get the full inflection of leadership. The failures in one story have to be considered in order to grasp the whole picture of great leadership.
Hire Fast and Fire Slow.
Few things are more critical to the success of an organization than the attraction and retention of remarkable talent. Unfortunately, leaders often get frustrated during the recruitment process and end up hiring B and C players just complete the task and have someone in place who can complete the work that isn’t getting done because of the vacancy or need. However, managing is 80% hiring. The fast hire of a B or C player inevitably leads to more time invested in managing, less quality production, slower growth rates, less profit and more morale problems.
If that weren’t enough, at some point, the leader will probably need to fire that person. Most leaders put off firing too long, which creates additional problems that could’ve been avoided if they had hired better in the first place (or had released the employee when it became obvious that the employee’s competencies had been exceeded). One of my great regrets as a leader was that I was too loyal and gracious (funny to hear a former pastor say that)—which means that I kept several people on staff too long. Once it becomes obvious that an employee’s competencies have been surpassed, it’s better for them (and you) to let them go. Eventually, you’ll have to let them go and when you do, it’ll be infinitely more complicated than if you had let them go when you knew it was time. If you want to learn from my pain, then you’ll want to practice my new rule: Hire Slow, Fire Fast. Memorize this rule or you’ll pay for it later.
Did not Invest Enough in Personal Leadership Development.
Capacity Theory states that people are entrusted with that which they have the capacity to handle. If a leader can only lead ten people, they won’t be entrusted with fifty. Likewise, if they can only lead a $5 million project, they won’t be entrusted with a $100 million project. The only way for leaders to continually grow is for them to invest in their leadership development. If you grow your capacity, you’ll automatically be entrusted with more. If you allow the busyness of your schedule to hinder your growth in your leadership capacity, you’ll hinder your future potential. At a minimum, you ought to invest 3% of your salary/income in personal development, plus whatever you can get from your company/employer. In addition, make sure you have a mentor (or mentors)—even if you have to pay for them.
The other day, I came across an article by Ron White where he attempted to draw a correlation between reading and income. Now, while there are plenty of poor people who read a lot and rich people who don’t, the statistic he offered is worth pondering. He wrote, “Statistics say the average CEO in America reads 4-5 books per month while the average American reads 1 book per year.” Regardless of his attempted correlation’s accuracy, the point of that quote worth pondering is that the average CEO reads four to five books per month. How many have you read this month? If you want to lead at a larger level, then you need to continually increase your leadership capacity, which almost always requires a fair amount of intentionality.
Focus on Tasks Versus Results.
Years ago, Alec Mackenzie wrote, “Nothing is easier than being busy, nothing more difficult than being effective.” How true! Most “leaders” get overwhelmed with the immense number of tasks they must accomplish so they tend to bury their head in them. Whenever you encounter this kind of leader, they almost always have that very busy and haggard look on their face that says, “Hey, I’ve got so much to do I don’t even have five seconds for you.” However, rarely do these same leaders ever take the time to focus on real results. They focus too much on the tasks at hand and being busy rather than on concrete results and being effective.
Most leaders hate managing. This hatred is usually further stoked by authors who write books (or give talks) on how management and leadership are two different processes (which they are). However, the way most leaders interpret this is, “I knew it. I’m not a manager so therefore I don’t need to manage any longer. I’m free. All I need to do is hire someone who will do the managing for me.” Now, while there’s nothing wrong with hiring a manager, leaders cannot fully delegate management away—nor can managers completely delegate leading away. What effective organizations need are more leader/managers and manager/leaders. It’s not an either/or but a both/and.
Wise leaders never fully give up managing. A friend of mine leads an organization of over 6,000 people. He, like most leaders I know, dislikes the management part of the job. However, he also knows that he can’t fully delegate that part of his job away. He knows that to effectively lead his organization, he has to manage more than just one direct report, who then manages everyone else. So, if you want to avoid this mistake, limit the scope/number of people who report to you and then learn to manage that smaller group incredibly well.
Did not Lead with Ideas.
Great leaders always lead with ideas. Whoever causes a group of people to accept an idea is the leader at that moment. That’s why it’s so critical for leaders to be idea people. This doesn’t mean that the leader has to generate every idea. But it does mean that the leader must, at a minimum, help create buy in for that idea and then become the banner carrier for that idea.
Why? Because ideas are what move people and organizations. When John Scully, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio became the three successive CEOs of Apple in the early 90’s, Apple had its worst years. Why? They were all managers who couldn’t create the kinds of innovative ideas that made Apple great. It wasn’t until Steve Jobs returned that Apple made its comeback. Why? Because Steve is an idea guy.
So, if someone wants to be a leader (especially a great one), they need to unleash their creative ability to generate ideas. Simply saying, “I’m not creative,” is unacceptable (and inaccurate). If you want to lead, lead with new ideas and create the buy-in for those ideas. Great leaders always lead with ideas.
Did not Manage Morale and Momentum.
Organizations are fragile—and nothing is more fragile than morale and momentum in an organization. As John Maxwell likes to say, “When big mo is on your side, you can do no wrong. But when big mo isn’t on your side, you can do no right.” No leader can keep morale up all the time, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Managing morale is why leading by storying around (LBSA) is so critical. The telling of stories—specifically stories that tell what’s going right in an organization—is critical to leadership success.
Don’t Manage the Money.
As an accounting major, one of the first lessons I learned was that cash flow is king. Yet, very few of the leaders I’ve met over the years have managed cash flow well—or made sure that they controlled the budget with their priorities. Frequently I’ll hear leaders say something to the effect of, “Well, money’s not my thing,” which is a rather foolish thing to say. Why? Because if managing money isn’t your thing, chances are you won’t be able to accomplish your objectives. If you want to go in one direction, but others hold the purse strings, you’re not the leader—you’re a follower. So, if “money’s not your thing,” make it. Take some courses, read some books and find a few advisors because whoever is managing the money is the leader. And if someone tries to take your ability to manage the money (i.e. your ability to direct cash flow) away from you, fight it. It’s nearly impossible to lead when you can’t manage the money.
Mimic Rather Than Create.
Since leaders are learners, they usually like attending conferences and listening to other leaders. Or, depending on their learning style, they may prefer visiting other companies/organizations so they can observe firsthand how others do what they do. However, a common mistake I’ve observed over the years occurs when a learning leader attempts to replicate (i.e. mimic) what those other leaders or companies/organizations they’re observing are doing.
What leaders who attempt to mimic fail to realize is that the leader they’re trying to mimic didn’t become a leader worth mimicking by mimicking someone else. Churchill didn’t mimic anyone. Tom Watson didn’t mimic anyone. Neither has Steve Jobs or Jack Welch or Fred Smith or Bill Gates or Howard Schultz or Charles Schwab. They all became great leaders because they were willing to do something different. They were willing to create their own way. Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t want to learn from others (see #3 above). It simply means that you don’t want to mimic another leader. Instead, find your own voice. You are uniquely designed to lead as only you can. So, what is your unique leadership voice?
Continue to Do What They’ve Always Done.
In one sense, this is understandable since most leaders are overwhelmed with the tasks and complexities of leadership. However, this tendency to repeat yesterday is shortsighted. Continuing to do what one has always done in the past will eventually stall out and kill an organization or company.
This principle applies to everything a leader or a company does. If a leader leads meetings the same way, or motivates the same way, or teaches the same way, or organizes the company picnic the same way, or innovates the same way, or casts vision the same way—his or her leadership will lose it’s impact and become ordinary. And ordinary is a leadership killer. As my company’s tagline says, “Friends don’t let friends do ordinary.”
This past year, Sony had its first losing year. When asked why, their new chairman, said, “Because we got complacent.” Big or small, it doesn’t matter. There will always be a seductive and natural pull to continue to do what’s worked in the past. However, if you want to be a remarkable leader, then you’ll want to continually change things and innovate new products and services. Remarkable leaders refuse to let anything they’re doing be boring, ordinary, mundane, predictable or pedestrian. Instead, they choose to do whatever they’re doing in such a way that they continually wow and woo the people they lead!
Being a good leader does not come in an instant although some might have it naturally in their self. In order to be a great leader, you need to take example, implement and improve your skill in every way possible.” Practice makes perfect”, it always does. To grow as a leader, I have always followed these simple steps and it has not let me down anytime I always try a new idea/process myself. Face the initial problems myself, try and find out a effective way to overcome these problems, streamline the process and once sure about its effectiveness; delegate it to my sub-ordinates. I purposefully try to set myself aloof even in some critical situations, which require handling bottlenecks. This allows my team to think of their own and come up with practical solutions, which they can't think otherwise. I listen to their ideas, and if its silly, brief them about the shortcomings politely. If its a good idea, I ask them to take complete responsibility of the implementation. This gives them a sense of responsibility. I always try to let them face the client t understand the third party perspective, and not only our own views. This helps my team to deliver not a pre-defined intelligence, but actually what the client's end objective is. In the last, I to grow as a leader, always help your sub-ordinates to grow by giving them chances to prove themselves; while at the same time keep sharpening your skills to move up to next ladder where new challenges wait for you.
You can't be a good leader throughout, you might be a good leader at one ladder, and might need to prove yourself in the next. So sharpening your skills and expertise is of utmost importance.
MSI –Sidang D, DPA 1/2012
Steve Jobs – Authorized Biography by Walter Isaacson (book)
I, Steve: Steve Jobs in his own words - by George Beahm (book)
The Steve Jobs Way: ileadership for a new generation by Jay Elliot
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo
The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success by Carmine Gallo