Leadership, Vision and Steve Jobs

I’ve been looking at the biographies of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook on the Apple Website. Gosh what a contrast!

There is Steve whose picture is now, strikingly, in colour, with his background in the Imagineering world of Disney and Pixar.

While Tim looks bright, cheerful, pleasant and just a little corporate.

But let us hope Tim has learned much from the master. It really is vision, quality and understanding the market that marks out success for Apple, rather than sensitive handling of employees or the supply chain!

Steve Jobs spent 12 tumultuous, painful years of failure before returning to Apple to make it the success it is today. He learned about leadership the hard way!

Yes, leadership, because his management style still sounds unusual at best!

“Steve might be capable of reducing someone to tears,” according to former colleague Pat Crecine, “but it’s not because he’s mean-spirited; it’s because he’s absolutely single minded, almost manic, in his pursuit of quality and excellence.”

John Sculley adds: “He possessed an innate sense of knowing exactly how to extract the best from people.”

Steve’s view: “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”

The Australian newspaper, Herald Sun, published a story about a girl from Melbourne (Hollie) with vision problems whose life was changed with iPad and its ability to zoom in on text materials. She wrote to Steve and he replied as follows;

“Thanks for sharing your experience with me. Do you mind if I read your email to a group of our top 100 leaders at Apple? Thanks, Steve”

He even asked for the picture above! Steve has had a habit of taking what he considered to be “Apple’s top 100 people” to a yearly offsite retreat and another habit of his is to read his favourite emails to an audience as inspiration.

A year ago the Telegraph described him as messianic, evangelistic and utterly devoted to the art of making beautiful products that ‘just work’!

Steve Jobs is thought of very highly not just by those within his industry, but in the wider business community.

Even Bill Gates, widely seen as Jobs’ nemesis, has a great deal of respect for his rival, and the way he revitalised Apple’s fortunes. “He’s done a fantastic job. Of all the leaders in the industry that I’ve worked with, he showed more inspiration and he saved the company.”

Rupert Murdoch rates him as the best chief executive around. “He’s got such incredible focus. He’s got such power inspiring the people around him who work for him”.

Kevin Compton, who was a senior executive at Businessland during Steve’s years in the wilderness described him after his return to Apple: “He’s the same Steve in his passion for excellence, but a new Steve in his understanding of how to empower a large company to realize his vision.”

Let us hope for Apple’s sake that he has passed on that particular gift to Tim Cook.

3 Replies to “Leadership, Vision and Steve Jobs”

    1. Thanks Zoe – it is going to be very interesting I think to watch what happens next at Apple. Your comment is much appreciated.

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