Drawing vs driving. Why you can't lead like Steve Jobs

There has been much written and said recently about the life and contribution of Steve Jobs.

There is no doubt that he was a remarkable person and that he led the charge to redefine how everyday people interact with technology. He saw things that didn't exist and drove them to reality.

He was a great example of how intense fervor, focus and attention to detail can achieve phenomenal results.

There is a lot to admire about the man.

But should we seek to emulate him?

Steve Jobs' leadership style is well known.

It would serve no useful purpose to highlight it in detail, but let's just say that it flew in the face of much of the excellent material on Leadership available today from authors such as Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins and a host of others.

So who is right?

Both. Depending on the results you want to achieve. 

Steve Jobs was a "driver".  He pushed, cajoled, and micromanaged every detail of each new product in an industry where creating magic was necessary to keep ahead of the hoards who were working just as hard to catch up, if not overtake Apple.  To make it more interesting, the 'magic' infused in every product quickly faded as user expectations demanded the next big thing. 

It is not an easy industry to be in.  Steve's passion, innovation and intensity allowed him to turn Apple into a world leader.

But being on top in this space is a fleeting achievement.

The battle never stops.

It is measured by the results of the next quarter. And the one after that, and the one after that.

I would suggest that for the majority of us in leadership, "driving" is not the style of leadership we need to be successful.

Steve could drive others to follow his vision because Apple was his company.  He was the CEO and had both position and authority to be involved in every detail of Apple, no matter how small. He could make up the rules as he went.

Not many of us are in that position.

Not many of us are in an industry that lives or dies by current quarter results.

Instead, we need to take a longer term view of building our organization and look beyond the short term results.

We need to cast the vision, and draw people along.

From out in front instead of pushing them from behind.

Instead of "driving"people to achieve our objectives, we are "drawing" people along to achieve their best results.

We are building people and relationships, not just products.

We are building a legacy.

We are making a lasting difference.

We are creating long lasting value in our organizations, and the people we interact with.

So where do you start?

I've mentioned a few authors who have excellent material on this type of leadership.  John Maxwell's new book - The Five Levels of Leadership is an excellent place to start.

There is much we can learn from the genius of Mr. Jobs.  He was a master presenter and I've adjusted much of my presentation style to adapt to his elegant simplicity. 

But I am not going to take on his leadership style with my team.

How about you?  What style of leadership works for you?


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