Why Did We Like Steve Jobs as a Leader? Let’s Count the Reasons Why

Let me start this by saying Steve and I rarely got together for lunch or meetings (and by “rarely” I mean never). That doesn’t mean many of us don’t have opinions on why Steve Jobs was a great business leader.

With the upcoming release of the biography Steve Jobs, many details are coming out about his thoughts and feelings on many things including: Google, Bill Gates, and President Obama.

From the PC World blog post, Steve Jobs Biography: 5 Tidbits You Need To Read:

We’ve heard before about how Steve Jobs purportedly felt betrayed by Google over Android and believed the search giant was trying to kill the iPhone with its mobile OS. But Jobs made his feelings about Android clearer to Isaacon, saying he was “willing to go thermonuclear war” against Google over Android, according to the Huffington Post. Jobs also referred to Android as “grand theft” of Apple’s iPhone and was purportedly willing to spend every last dime of Apple’s $40 billion cash reserves to get rid of Android…

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates grew to respect Jobs. In 2007, during a joint interview with the Apple chief at the D5 conference Gates commended Jobs for creating the first mass market PC, the Apple II.

Jobs, on the other hand, didn’t return the favor. In Isaacson’s book, Jobs called Gates “unimaginative” and someone who “shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas,” according to the Huffington Post. Jobs even said Gates was more comfortable in philanthropy, because of his lack of imagination. Ouch…

Apple is often admired for its advertising campaigns, and Jobs apparently offered to lend his marketing genius to President Obama by creating ads for his 2012 re-election campaign. The Apple chief made the same offer to the Obama campaign in 2008, but the partnership led nowhere after friction developed between Jobs and Obama’s then-chief strategist David Axelrod.”

3 reasons we liked Steve Jobs

As some of these details come out, I think it gives us a great picture of why America had a love affair with Jobs as a leader. From my standpoint those include:

  1. People want a leader who is willing to “fight” – publicly.
  2. People want a leader who has an opinion — a “real” opinion and is willing to share it – publicly.
  3. People want a leader who has conviction – and is willing to show it – publicly. I might not agree with his politics, but I love the fact that as a leader of an enormous company he wasn’t hiding his convictions.

Too many times we have our corporate leaders who are so “cleansed,” so “vanilla,” so P.C. that they never really say anything. It’s why we love all these CEOs from start-up companies — they have nothing to lose.

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As soon as they “make it” they go through some PR machine that turns them into nothing. It’s one of the most sad issues companies face as they grow and become successful – the “death” of the personality of their leaders!

Can’t wait to read the full biography, fascinating personality.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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