Imagine the potential Steve Jobs had if he had been a Leader…
A quick Google search will return descriptive words for Steve Jobs, who passed away the evening of October 5th, 2011.
- Hard-driving executive
- Master Showman
- Cult Hero
Without a doubt, there is something quite amazing about watching someone who is unabashedly passionate about their craft.
That focus and energy can be contagious.
And that contagion can have a significant impact on those around them. Almost like a strong man pulling a train you are almost compelled to come along for the ride.
A Turbulent Business Career
Though Steve Jobs accomplished much and was the chief executive of some of the most recognizable companies in the world, he was also, by all accounts, very difficult to work with. He was a “hard driving and difficult boss.” His style created a challenging environment, for both individuals and for the company as a whole.
For example, after the Macintosh was released and Apple failed to gain market-share on IBM, Jobs was forced out of the company he co-founded.
His next company, called “NeXT” also failed to have the impact he hoped.
Steve Jobs the Tyrant
There are times when difficult situations are thrust upon us, through no fault of our own. And there are times when our behavior creates, or significantly contributes to, the situations we are in.
Steve Jobs’ behavioral style clearly contributed to his challenges. It is pretty well documented that the work environment for teams in the companies run by Steve Jobs was not good.
According to Robert Sutton, Stanford management science professor and author:
“As soon as people heard I was writing a book on assholes, they would come up to me and start telling a Steve Jobs story. The degree to which people in Silicon Valley are afraid of Jobs is unbelievable. He made people feel terrible; he made people cry.”
The environment under Jobs was not good. There are multiple accounts of his temper flaring and causing him to fire random employees for minor reasons, terminate important business relationships, and cause executives to resign after altercations that include personal attacks.
But What if He Were a Leader?
Despite the working environment, Steve Jobs was able to create change and bring innovation the likes of which have not been seen since Thomas Edison.
Make no mistake, Steve Jobs had an amazing impact on the world, through his passion and vision for what technology could do in people’s lives. That should not be minimized in any way.
But, perhaps the most telling insight to take away from the thousands of words that are pouring out to rightfully eulogize Steve Jobs is the one that is conspicuously absent: Leader.
Imagine the impact he could have had if, among all the other things, he were also a more effective Leader.
3 Leadership Lessons that Steve Jobs Never Learned
There are 3 essential leadership lessons that it appears that Steve Jobs never learned, but you can.
1) People are more productive, creative, and innovative in an environment in which they are happy and feel valued. Period.
2) You will get more out of people if you demonstrate Versatility/Emotional Intelligence and work with them in a way they are more comfortable based on their own behavioral style. Understanding behavioral style and adjusting your approach to meet the style of the people you are leading will get you more results and higher performance.
3) It’s not about you.
“And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
But if you want to be a leader, you also have to understand that you cannot do it alone. As a leader, it’s not about you. It’s about the people you are trying to lead. How can you make THEM successful? Your people cannot be secondary.
Imagine how much more could have been accomplished if Steve Jobs had demonstrated more collaborative behaviors. Imagine how much more could have produced if he were easier to work with.
A Leader’s Call to Action
Don’t let yourself suffer from the same affliction that Steve Jobs did. You can learn to be a better leader. You can learn to foster an environment where people who work with you are more engaged and are happier. Do that AND tap into your own vision and creativity.
Understand the environment around you. Become aware of your behavioral style. If you aren’t aware of your style and how it impacts those working around you, then it’s definitely time to do something about that. Take a class. Attend a webinar. Read up on it.
Your people deserve it.
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Image Sources: adapted from speaktoall.files.wordpress.com, abcnews.go.com