FEW would argue that Steve Jobs had poor leadership skills. Some have said that his people skills were lacking, that he was not universally liked because he was so very demanding and at times displayed a rude manner. Demanding is good, rude not so much, but nobody’s perfect. I think Jobs was amazing. Why? Apple products. Game-changers that are a pleasure to use. The innovation, effort, and team work needed to produce such high quality results ultimately comes down to great leadership.
Here’s Jobs talking about Apple’s HR structure.
His point about team-work at the top leading to teamwork below (0:57) should be tattooed inside the eyelids of every department head in the world. Only it wouldn’t help, or at least not alone it wouldn’t. Whoever department heads report to has the responsibility to ensure they work well together. Instead, more often than not, they’re played off against each other in the mistaken belief that that will drive productivity. They work longer not smarter, play politics, curry favor, point the finger, and make excuses. Support each other? Trust each other? Not so much. Teamwork is top down. That’s why good sports coaches get paid so much, and are so few and far between. That’s not to say a little competition between players is bad, in fact, it’s good; as long as it’s understood that they’re competing at who can be the best contributor to the team effort.
Jobs offers another great formulation toward the end of the clip:
“[companies] have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy.”
So the great coach not only creates an atmosphere of trust between players, he also makes sure innovation can come from anywhere.