You may have heard that Steve Jobs has decided to step down from his successful tenure as Apple’s CEO. Without a doubt, Jobs’ effective leadership style was directly responsible for Apple’s complete turnaround in the marketplace. The man is inspiring: He has a vision and very rarely wavers from it, even when his decisions about innovation seemed counterintuitive and spooked shareholders.
However, as CEO, he was always course-correcting how to get to that vision: He has been unafraid to admit that he doesn’t know all of the answers and invited CEOs of Oracle, Intuit, etc., to consult with him on whether he was pursuing the right innovation strategy for Apple. His example of an effective leadership style really underlines the importance of good networks and rock-solid mentors. Good leaders aren’t afraid to say, “Hey, what do you think of this idea?”
While he’s going out on top, he’s no stranger to setbacks. Remember, Jobs was actually fired by Apple in 1985 and yet bounced back to reinvent Pixar, one of the most beloved entertainment brands in the world, before going back to the mothership.
CIOs tell me they struggle with communicating back to the business. We’ve already looked at how IT alignment is a one-sided affair. Everyone at Apple was aligned with the leader’s vision. CIOs can take a page from Jobs and consider adopting elements of his effective leadership style. Jobs became an evangelist for his vision, and his team was confident enough to take up that torch and run with it. He also excels at not only knowing his customer but also in whipping that customer into a lather of excitement for corporate strategy. Not surprisingly, Apple is often cited as the epitome of brand loyalty, not just with the consumer but also with internal team members. Wouldn’t we all want to have our team members voluntarily tattoo themselves with our corporate logo?
Even with my Apple predilection, I’ll really miss Jobs’ effective leadership style. I’ll miss his enthusiasm and the similarly zany impressions on SNL. But most of all, I’ll miss his constant reminders that innovation is nothing short of “magic.” That’s a good reminder for all of us.