Tuesday, July 30, 2019

BOOK REVIEW The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation (2011) by Jay Elliot

The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation (2011)
by Jay Elliot with William L. Simon

I’ve read half a dozen books about Steve Jobs, the man who revolutionized the way we use technology. Among the most detail books on Jobs is by Walter Isaacson. One of the best! But what makes this book unique among many, even in comparison with Isaacson’s, is that Jay Elliot brings a deep, personal and insider perspective of Steve Jobs’ unique leadership style. Jay was the senior vice president of Apple Computer and responsible for many projects and management works. He reported directly to Steve Jobs when Jobs was a chairman of the board.  He wrote in the author’s note: “I’ve known and worked with the leaders of IBM and Intel; I’ve met great leaders and thinkers, including Jack Welch, Buckminster Fuller, and Joseph Campbell, and discussed the next paradigm change in organizational structure with John Drucker. Steve is in the class by himself.”

I find that Jobs can be a difficult leader to work with and not all of his leadership skills can be emulated because it is unique to him. There will never be another Steve Jobs is as true as there can’t be another you. He is unique (and broken) as much as anyone of us. But nevertheless, I’ve learned Three (3) Great Lessons on Leadership from the genius of Steve Jobs:

#1 Aim for Excellent. Jobs always strived for one thing - the best user experience and feedback. That vision drove him in every creation that he and Wozniak made during their cooperation time. Jay writes, “Steve Jobs understood something that a lot of companies try to do, but are rarely successful at. The more he advanced, the simpler his products became. In some instances, it’s less about the product and more about the user. Every user wants to be successful. When you know how to operate something masterfully, how does it make you feel? More people will buy if customers feel good using the product.” Jobs sometimes delay the launching of the products because he doesn’t want to display a ‘lousy’ product. Excellent and perfection can be similar but as a leader, perfection is ideal but unachievable. The way I see it, Jobs aims for excellent!

#2 Be a Team Player. Sometimes people portrait Jobs as a narcissist (well, there is some truth in it) but as you read this book further you’ll find that he believes in the power of synergy, mutual trust and sense of belonging in a team. For example, during the development process in the company, Jobs referred to his Mac engineers as his most trusted associates. Each employee was provided with a T-shirt with Jobs’ single-quote: “Pirates! Not the Navy.” Jay recalls, “When I joined Apple, Steve had already come to a keen understanding that people become motivated when their manager or leader makes a direct, active, personal connection to the people and the product. He found that's the best way to inspire others.” When people think of Apple, people always equate it with Jobs, the founder, and mastermind. But Jobs understands and admits that all of these - the company and the products - are nothing without his teams.

#3 Ignite Passion. Passion is contagious. Steve Jobs displayed passion so strong that the people who work with him can simply be energized when they near him. “I believe that business is a reflection of its leader, its champion,” reasons Jay. “Like children who sense when someone isn’t sincere, you can’t fake it. You need to be passionate about the products you are creating, promoting, marketing, or selling, and that means you need to be in a company and an industry you truly care about. Steve Jobs could not have achieved what he has without passion, a commitment to excellence, great branding, and the openness to learn from his mistake.”


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