Steve Jobs Leadership
Steve Jobs (1955- 2011)
American co-founder of Apple with his friend, Steve Wozniak (pictured right below), in 1976,
starting in his parents' garage in Silicon Valley, California.
Fired from Apple in 1985, he:
Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 as chief executive and made it hugely successful again with products like
He sadly died of cancer in 2011, but his genius lives on at Apple, now the world's most valuable
Why was he a great leader?
1. Vision and purpose
The inevitability of death encouraged him to take risks and do something great with his life.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life”, he said.
Every morning he asked himself:
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m afraid to do today?”
If his answer was ‘no’ several days in a row, he changed what he did.
He was a Zen Buddhist which gave him these vital insights:
a) the beginner's mind
Start everything without any preconceptions and with “the lightness of being a beginner again” (as he described
the reason for his creativity after being fired by Apple)
b) living in the present
(and loving life).
c) mindful awareness
Being aware of the good and bad that life has to offer including joy, success, failure, pain and death.
d) making beautiful, useful things
(the intersection of art and business)
Beauty meant much more to him than money.
He didn't let other people's views extinguish his “inner voice” (what he thought was
2. Courage and determination
He had the guts to take on big challenges like his:
But this made him value his life and its purpose even more.
His adopted parents' love and his determination helped him overcome the rejection of his birth parents. But many
friends say this rejection made him insecure and aggressive (see point 6).
3. Lifelong learning and creativity
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”, he said i.e. he was always:
His learning and creativity were also boosted by:
His calligraphy skills from college helped to design Apple's Macintosh computer (launched in 1984, pictured
His high school teacher, Imogene Hill , gave him a passion for learning.
(against dogma and conventional wisdom)
“It’s better to be a pirate than join the Navy”, he said.
c) learning - from his:
d) putting thought into action
The people that really create the things that change this industry are both the thinker and doer in one person”, he
4. Customer satisfaction and quality products
His philosophy was to build technically brilliant and beautifully designed products that customers would
So these were important to him
a) technological brilliance
(through research and development in teams).
(why Jobs worked so closely with Apple's design chief, Jonathan Ive, pictured right).
Jobs loved the intersection between art (producing beauty) and technology.
c) knowledge and intuition
(to exploit market opportunities, as with iTunes that downloads music).
d) getting it right first time
But you can’t ask customers what they want, he said, because:
5. Constant change and innovation
He was a perfectionist with an obsession for
Apple is consistently voted the world’s most innovative company, because of the highly creative people he
recruited like the British head of his design team, Jonathan Ive .
6. Tough and aggressive
“You always have to keep pushing to innovate”, he said.
In the early 1980’s “being Steved” meant being fired, whilst riding in the elevator with
Employees were often intimidated by his aggression, but they never lost their great respect for
He told the iPod team that the first prototype was too big and dropped it in a fish tank, so
that the escaping bubbles would prove him right!
His lifeblood was face to face communication , particularly
7. Motivator and communicator
He inspired people to work hard through his
He was a great salesman and public speaker, being witty, informative, inspiring and informal.
In 1983 he famously asked, Pepsi’s John Sculley (pictured right together in 1985) :
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the
Jobs, later said that hiring Sculley was one of his biggest mistakes, because Sculley was more interested in
profits than products, forcing Jobs to leave Apple.
8. Love of work
He was happy and successful, because he loved his work and doing new things.
For example, his dismissal from Apple freed him to be creative elsewhere.
The price of his success was that he didn 't know his children as much as he would have
He asked Walter Isaacson to write his biography, because:
“I want my kids to know me”.
The best book on Steve Jobs is...
Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (2011)
Key quotes on customer satisfaction
Customers must find what they love
Key quotes on market research
A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market
None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want. (responding to whether he did market research for the
Key quotes on motivation
The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the
contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That's what has driven me.
Key quotes on creativity and innovation
Don’t be trapped by dogma which is the result of other people’s thinking.
Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.
I’m a big believer in boredom. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity and out of curiosity comes
The people that really create the things that change this industry are both the thinker and doer in one
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have...It’s about the people you have, how you’re
led, and how much you get it.
We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
You always have to keep pushing to
Key quotes on success
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life
I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we've done something
wonderful … that's what matters to me.
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Key quotes on business success
My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The
products, not the profits, were the motivation.
About half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
We’re always trying to do better.
Great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people.
Key quote on design
“Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works”.
Key quote on quality
Quality is more important than quantity.
Key quote on interviewing and selection
You can't know enough in a one-hour interview. So, in the end, it's ultimately
based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they're challenged? Why are they
Key quote on
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to
Key quote on
I like the intersection of the humanities and technology
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