True leaders are very rare, perhaps one in a generation. In the world of technology, fast-paced modernization, and the advent and spread of the smartphone, one man is accredited much of the achievements.
Steve Jobs is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our generation, and single-handedly brought Apple from obscurity to its current standing of a two trillion dollar net worth, and was the innovator of ground-breaking products such as the Macintosh, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. By all definitions, he checked the box for every kind of success possible through his illustrious career.
He could have easily given up with the many curve balls thrown his way, but the reason why his leadership has been so transformational is because he mitigated his way through the status quo. Any entrepreneur wanting to leave their mark in the world has to be an efficient leader, and can learn many things from Steve Jobs leadership style.
Legacy and Leadership
While many only know him for being the enigmatic co-founder of Apple and debate about his leadership style, in the aftermath of his death it is pretty clear why it was as effective as it was.
Instead of talking about his achievements and successes in a vacuum, there are lessons to be learnt from Jobs’ leadership style, which entrepreneurs from any field can adopt to tangible results. Even 10 years after his death, he left behind a legacy in not just the technology world, but in business, leadership, and many other fields. How have people analyzed Steve Jobs leadership style?
He was very happy to share his wisdom in personal relationships and also with large crowds. His Stanford Commencement address remains highly studied to this day, since it contains worthwhile motivation and advice for young entrepreneurs.
Go Against the Flow
To envision a device that would connect the world small enough to fit into a pocket is legendary in and of itself. Executing that vision requires a team, and working cohesively with that team requires an infallible and effective leadership style. Any entrepreneur is a rule-breaker while challenging the status quo, even if it means they’re branded a misfit.
Jobs dreamed of big things, irrational things, but it was his nonconforming attitude toward rules and barriers that took him to such great success. He never looked toward what had already been done. This is one thing true leaders in this day and age can learn from and practice.
Practice What You Preach
The pinnacle, perhaps, of Jobs’ leadership style was that he led his team by example. He was creating something revolutionary, and employing others in the same journey. If he didn’t put in the same all-nighters, and keep the same standard of work (if not higher) for himself as the one for his employees, they would have most likely walked out on him instead of being unflinchingly loyal to him.
His leadership didn’t involve delegating tasks to his employees and barricading himself in his office until it was time to go home, it was very hands-on with his team. If there was an all-nighter, Jobs worked right alongside the staff. His work ethic wasn’t imposed on his staff, but was rather the standard expected of him and them as well.
A Leader Is a Mentor
Another representation of Jobs as a boss can be seen through the fact that he was a demanding leader. After all, he changed the course of technology as we know of it and not a single employee has ever considered him anything but the best mentor.
Steve Jobs leadership style represents the “tough love” strategy, mentorship and honesty are more important than being affable. Jobs’ employees are unanimous in the opinion that working with him was both personally and professionally fulfilling because he was such an effective mentor.
Products First, Profits Later
While this may sound insane to businessmen who consider it perfectly reasonable to keep profits as a motivation, Jobs’ leadership style was to lead his team to produce the best products and then enjoy the profits. He wanted to make the Macintosh “insanely great,” and specifically directed that no expense be spared in achieving that end. He also never spoke of profit goals and trade-offs! The team, disbelieving and short-sighted, didn’t follow his maxim of “don’t compromise” and ousted him from Apple. History is testimony that he was right all along.
Jobs’ personal leadership quality was taking responsibility from start to finish, for products, services, and company experiences and that’s what he endowed in Apple’s brand ethos as well.
He believed that the seamless integration of all products offered by Apple would become its recognizable quality. Any Apple device anywhere could connect with another and iPods could sync with Macs with music, creating a kind of cohesive ecosystem and decreasing glitches. This allowed the user to access any functionalities. For the iPod to be as simple as it was, the Mac had to have more features. Jobs personally designed and tested these systems before he put them out into the world.
Leaps and Bounds in Leadership
The reason why Apple is known for innovation is because Jobs knew how to mitigate any market gaps as soon as any of the products fell behind on functionality. iMacs, for example, couldn’t burn CDs, but were very efficient with photos and videos, and that wouldn’t do. Instead of wasting company money by putting out an updated iMac, Steve Jobs leadership style shone through in his leapfrog approach: the creation of a nuanced, top-of-the-shelf music system.
With the launch of iTunes and the iTunes store being usable on all Apple devices, it transformed the way people listened to music. This impeccable long-term vision didn’t get on hold after the immense success of the iPod. Instead came Jobs’ worry that phone manufacturers would add music player features to phones, which eventually led to the creation of new models of the iPhone.
Instinct and Intuition
Predicting what consumers want requires instinct and intuition, both of which are disregarded in business as worthwhile leadership qualities. Customers don’t always tell companies what they want, so any relevant company will observe patterns, predict future demands and meet them before anybody else. Having developed a respect for intuition on his travels to India after he dropped out of college, Jobs didn’t rely on sole market research, rather an intuition as to what the customer would want.
Steve Jobs was an exceptionally gifted entrepreneur and an individual with an influence on the world of technology that cannot be understated. What he created has been the flag-bearer of a revolution that morphed chunky PCs to slim devices that bring the world to our fingertips. Entrepreneurs can take a page or two out of Jobs’ leadership style, though there never will be someone like him again.