“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
—Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997
Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing.
Most people would agree that Steve Jobs will go down as one of the world’s great innovators alongside Edison, Ford and Disney. However, the story of Steve Jobs will likely polarise as many as it will inspire. None of these men were saints, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business. His biographer Walter Isaacson explains why:
The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism.
When I reflect on Steve Jobs, there are many different leadership attributes that come to mind. However, one stands out: the ability to inspire.
Whilst Jobs was famously impatient, petulant, and tough with the people around him, his treatment of people, (though not laudable) emanated from his passion for perfection and his desire to work with only the best.
Whether in times of crises or during business as usual, the ability to inspire your people (and stakeholders) is a critical trait of the disruptive leader.
Here are some great resources to learn more about how he was able to do this:
- Steve Jobs talks about managing people
- Young Steve Jobs on how to hire, manage, and lead people
- Walter Isaacson in HBR article on leadership lessons from Steve Jobs – see ‘A-Player’ section
- Ken Segall on why Jobs was such a smart leader
- Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech 2005