I’ve been a great admirer of Steve Jobs ever since I discovered him in 2006. Since then, I’m following the company and its every move closely. I’ve learnt a lot about business, leadership, products and execution from them. In this article, I share some leadership lessons I learnt from Steve Jobs.
Learn to say NO
As Steve used to say that Focusing is about saying no. This is very simple yet often ignored. As a business leader, one should make his focus laser sharp by removing the unwanted stuff or distractions. The things you say “yes” to should be in sync with your vision.
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” Jobs says in his biography by Issacon. “It’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
Make and nurture the company image
Apple goes to extereme length in order to have a super tight secrecy around its products and strategries. Nobody is allowed to interact with media other than the people who are assigned for it specifically. This allows for maintaining the kind of image that you want to show to public and competitors. It also makes people more inquisitive about what’s new coming up. Apple does this to present itself as very focused, united and mysterious. The result: people get enchanted by Apple!
Steve, when returned to Apple in 1997, also brought the culture of secrecy that he developed at NeXT. There were even posters in the campus saying: Loose Lips Might Sink Ships. The intention was clear: He wanted to rebuild the company’s image to be innovative and focused. For this to work, the company had to be secretive.
So what I learnt from this is that the leader should design his company’s image by controlling what is made public, by whom, and when.
Make something good and call it Great!
This one is great! Apple does it excellently and it works. I’m not saying that Apple makes just “good” products. They make “great” products. But they project them as something extraordinarily special and out of this world. Steve often said “We simple make great products” and he rated competitors’ products as third-grade. This trend continues with Johny Ive, Apple’s chief designer, said in a recent interview that our competitors have completely the wrong goals.
Its the way, Apple presents their products which makes people believe them to be special. From the breathtaking designs of Apple Stores around the world, unibody designs of Macs, edge to edge glass, and the price tags, they all make a great impression on people. So the lesson is in presentation. A functional product having great looks will feel much better than a functional product having ugly looks.
This one is anti-Steve as he himself never cared about being nice to people. He just cared about doing the right thing. This often pissed off lots of people but it somehow worked. I think that was an exception. It worked for him because of the combination of his early success, charisma, insight and his ability to produce results. Most likely, this will not work in your case. Moreover, just imagine how many great ideas would have been discarded because many people hesitated and didn’t have the guts to stand up against him.
I believe, one should be friendly and approachable so that a positive perspective can be nurtured in the team.
Don’t follow the numbers
Don’t take decisions to increase certain numbers or statistics. Instead, just make something really good and useful for people and spread it. Numbers will automatically follow and people will love your product. Just strive for a great user experience. Your users/customers will reward you for treating them so nicely.
Steve often said, “Create a culture, numbers will follow“. With Apple, Steve has created a culture of innovation, of doing the right thing for the customer, of staying focused, and of keeping control of the company image. Apparently, all the numbers are following automatically taking the company to half a trillion dollars!
These are some of my learnings from a great business leader of our times: Steve Jobs. Hope you find something useful from it.
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[Guest article contributed by Jeet Singh. Reproduced from his blog]
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