His core values were often masked when his management style and passion for Apple’s mission took center stage.
I met Steve in Cupertino, back in the 80′s.
No, I’ve never technically worked alongside the legend, but lets just say, I have been present.
I found him to be arrogant, somewhat lacking in interpersonal skills with employees, charismatic and very demanding. My thought at the time …not exactly the leadership traits of world-class corporate leader.
But through this strength of character, Steve created a corporate culture at Apple which is ingrained in every single thing they do and object they produce. Walk into any Apple Store across the world and similar themes run throughout, yet they’re all different and unique in their own way.
And that attitude, that way every bit of his personality and drive is built into the culture and every person with an Apple ID badge, well it’s special. It’s unlike anything else out there, and it’s the reason why Apple is the way it is today.
Steve Jobs was a shining example of a leader
His genius was not just that Apple makes excellent products. He was able to get people to understand and buy into what Apple stands for.
It’s no accident most of Apple’s ads don’t talk about how good their products are, but more about what you can do with them, and how they make you feel. Their customer loyalty is truly remarkable.
People stand in line to buy Apple products and willingly pay more for them than competing brands.
What makes a great leader?
Great companies always have great leaders. And these leaders often have core values and leadership traits in common.
First and foremost they all know they are there to lead and motivate employees, and create a great customer experience.
We need to establish core values which are indistinguishable from our brand ~ consistent, positive and challenging.And that when they do, profits and growth follow, and opportunities appear. Customers hear about them, what they stand for, and want to do business with them, because their core values and leadership traits mean they keep their eye on the ball, and not on the scoreboard.
Successful leaders make decisions based on the long term, but they instinctively know how focusing on today will enable them to meet the goals of tomorrow.
What we can learn from such leaders is ~ we need to establish core values which are indistinguishable from our brand ~ consistent, positive and challenging. Then priorities are clear and permeate from the top to the bottom of the organisation.
You could be forgiven for thinking its all about interpersonal skills, but its not.
Interpersonal skills ~ sometimes referred to as “people skills” or “communication skills” ~ involve using skills such as active listening, tone of voice, delegation, and leadership. They are a measure of how well you communicate with someone and how well you behave or carry yourself.
The term “interpersonal skills” is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person’s ability to operate within an organisation through social communication and interaction. Interpersonal skills are really how people relate to one another.
But interpersonal skills are the medium, not the message.
The other day I was meeting with the head of an emerging mid-size organisation. She told me she had just hired a new employee for a key, non-management position, and her hope was that by introducing this employee into the inbound sales team it would change the way the current employees performed.
As she put it, dropping this new high performing employee into the company “fish bowl” would show the other fish how to swim. She told me that she believed when the new fish started to produce more than those already in the bowl, the others would be forced to “swim faster”
I asked her a question. Who sets the culture of an organisation? Where do the core values come from? Are they set by a new employee or by the leadership traits of the leaders of the organisation; the owners, the directors and managers? You can guess her answer.
Too often the leaders of organisations believe by changing their employees for new ones it will improve the organisation’s performance, and, too often they are disappointed. I am not suggesting you keep employees who are unwilling or unable to perform a function in your organisation. But, in my experience, new employees often learn how to behave from existing employees, managers, the company’s culture. Therefore, if you are consistently disappointed in your employees’ performance, perhaps you should be asking different questions.
Like perhaps about your core values?
What is company culture?
For instance, the next logical question may be, “What is company culture?” The best definition of company culture I have heard is, “The way we get things done.” In organisations, the “way things get done” is set by the leader, and by proxy, the managers. Therefore, hoping a new employee will have enough influence to change the culture of your organisation is pretty unrealistic.
If you, as a leader, are not satisfied with the way things are getting done in your organisation, you should look at your leadership traits and management practices. Are you setting clear, measurable goals with your employees? Are you holding your employees accountable for reaching or exceeding the goals? Are you actively mentoring your employees on a daily and weekly basis? Are you providing training for your employees so that they know how to accomplish their tasks and they grow? Are you rewarding your employees for reaching their goals?
If you cannot answer, “Yes” to these questions, you probably have some work to do. There are a lot of resources which can help you with goal setting, learning to coach correctly, providing training or setting up reward systems. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Remember, leadership, company culture and core values all start at the top.
They start with you.