5 Outstanding Examples of Leadership from Steve Jobs

5 Outstanding Examples of Leadership from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs would stand out among the pantheon of the greatest leaders ever to have walked on this planet. Without a doubt, he captured the imagination of the world with his prolific qualities that made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

His leadership wasn’t always one of his admired traits. He had his share of problems dealing with people and his teams. Infact, he had to leave Apple at one point in his career, only to return almost 12 years later in a resurgent fashion. His comeback scripted one of the most glorious chapters in corporate history.

It all started in the garage where Jobs with his friend Wozniak built electronic products. The love and passion for what they did overcame their greatest hurdles. Wozniak was a brilliant engineer & Jobs had the ability to make things happen like no other person. Steve Jobs had an amazing ability to convince, persuade and push people to do superhuman feats, they themselves didn’t think possible.

Here’s a look at some of the instances from Jobs’ life that demonstrate his leadership qualities.

1. Intensity of Focus

Intensity of focus

It is the responsibility of leaders to set the right focus. When you work with incredibly talented people and have resources at your disposal, companies often lose focus. They did that at Apple too.

On his return to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs was able to get his team to focus. It meant doing away with unnecessary products, services, packaging etc. It meant refining and building better products by putting all focus and attention into them. It meant saying to everything other than core areas that defined Apple.

Steve Jobs had an amazing ability to simplify things. He had his Zen like approach where he could figure out the most important things and leave out the rest. He had the ability to execute relentlessly and zone into things that made the big difference. As a leader, you’ve got to be able to do things that move the needle.

2. Exposure

Steve Jobs had a rich experience and exposure to the best things human beings were capable of. He took pride in his artistic approach to life and his worldview was different. He was a Beatles fan, he loved Bob Dylan’s music, went to India and spent 7 months in an ashram in pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Jobs once said, “creativity is just connecting things.”

Innovation and progress happens when you combine the best from different areas. Steve Jobs was able to comprehend great products, brainstorm ideas and execute things to perfection. He was fascinated by artists and engineers. Apple was able to combine the artistic designs and great engineering to build some of the most amazing products of our times.

3. Vision to Reality

Vision to Reality

Steve Jobs wasnt satisfied with the ordinary. He pushed his teams to achieve extraordinary feats, they themselves didn’t think possible. When Jobs asked Wozniak to build a game for Atari, Woz told him it would take months. Jobs stared at him and said he could do it four days and Wozniak did it.

As a leader, it is often your vision that takes shape into reality. Steve Jobs was able to visualise things and bring them to life to the amazement of the world. He had this exceptional will power to make things happen.

Jobs was great with the vision as well as the tiniest details that went into making the products. Whether it was the packaging, frames, size of the screws, nothing escaped him.
Great leaders are able to own their vision and translate them into reality.

4. Insanely Great

In the early 1980s, When Jobs and his team were working on the original Macintosh computers, he instructed his team to build something “insanely great.” Many times, he would say to people to show him something and would give very vague ideas.

But he worked incessantly refining, iterating and finally producing insanely great products. One after the other Apple produced a barrage of insanely great products. The benchmark was set by Jobs himself.

Jobs understood user experience better than anyone else. He pushed his team to build products that customers craved for. Upon his return to Apple, Jobs unleashed some of the most successful products in the history of the company. The products like ipod, iphone, iMac, and ipad changed the face of many industries. 

Great things are always possible for those who are immersed in what they are doing. Steve Jobs led from the front, he was passionate about building great products & he set incredibly high expectations. More often than not, his team met his expectations and the results are there for everyone to see.

5. Innovation


Innovation and creativity are hallmarks of a great leader. When you can build things that can influence things positively around you, you are looked upon as a leader. Steve Jobs had this ingrained into his personality where he kept pushing the envelope of human possibilities.

He pushed his teams to build and deliver innovative products that changed many industries. Leaders are able to forge their way forward with innovations. They are able to create their own path for moving forward. Steve Jobs was able to reinvent a company called Pixar, which he bought from George Lucas, director of “Star Wars.”  He worked hard at Pixar along with his team to produce the first fully animated computer movie, Toy Story. It was a run away hit. Pixar went on to make many more successful animation movies one after the other.

Eventually, Pixar was sold to Disney for $7.4 billion. It made Steve Jobs a billionaire & largest shareholder in Disney too. Interestingly, this was during his exile years from Apple. The innovation and creativity in Jobs was able to conceive ways to stamp his authority on the world in myriad ways.


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