The Role Of Personality In Business: Steve Jobs

After the news that Steve Jobs has quit as CEO of Apple (becoming an overseeing Chairman), there have been many posts on the pros and cons of his inimitable style and to what extent this is critical to Apple’s longer term financial success.

From the incisive David Pogue:

But despite these positive signs, there’s one heck of a huge elephant in the room — one unavoidable reason why it’s hard to imagine Apple without Mr. Jobs steering the ship: personality.

His personality made Apple Apple. That’s why no other company has ever been able to duplicate Apple’s success. Even when Microsoft or Google or Hewlett-Packard tried to mimic Apple’s every move, run its designs through the corporate copying machine, they never succeeded. And that’s because they never had such a single, razor-focused, deeply opinionated, micromanaging, uncompromising, charismatic, persuasive, mind-blowingly visionary leader.

Bearing this in mind, this quote from the rather wise Peter Drucker is instructive:

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

However on the issue of the necessity of a leader, like Jobs, to have ‘fatal flaws’, you can also quote Bernard Shaw (Maxims for Revolutionists):

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

With all this in mind, it’s interesting to hear that an Apple University has been set up to help the management transition. This organisation is rather secretive (in keeping with Apple’s general approach) but seems to be concerned with sharing knowledge of the thought processes and decision making of senior Apple management. See the infographic below for more details.

Here’s a bit more fascinating info on ‘life inside Apple‘ from the Guardian.

Update: some more recent info on the Apple University here.

Picture credits: above and below.



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