There is a great deal being said and written about the late, great, Steve Jobs. He was a complex personality — and a remarkable leader. Folks often overlook the personality piece and focus on the leadership. After reading another article about his leadership style, it got me thinking, What if Steve Jobs Worked for you?
Imagine if you will a young Steve Jobs, fresh out of not graduating from college, twenty something, energetic, but not expert. You might hire him because he’d probably interview well. Once onboard your company you give young Steve something lower-level to do.
You might not see he works long hours because you’re not there at the same time he is.
You might get upset that he makes so many phone calls investigating things that have nothing to do with your business.You might also take issue with his decisions — he should have asked before he ordered that new equipment.
If this is 2012 young Steve is probably all over the web and social media and knows all the new technology stuff before anybody else. You might think he’s wasting a lot of time. His idea for a whole new way to do your business is, well, just impossible.
You might not like him much. He’s blunt, then he’s charming, then he’s blunt again. He thinks he knows everything. He tells the truth about the new product idea you’re working on — and it’s a truth that really hurts. You don’t want to hear your new baby “sucks.” He’s arrogant, and your employees tell you this too.
After a time you start thinking he’s more trouble than he’s worth.
If Steve Jobs worked for you, right now, you’d probably fire him.
The thing is, Steve Jobs, in another incarnation (that is, somebody with that level of talent and ability to think differently) is out there working for someone right now and is about to get fired. New Steve might be working for you right now. Look closely at your list of trouble makers…
Business leaders often have a very low tolerance for people who really “think different.” If your business is purring along nicely, and you’re focused on operations, his value is lost to you. He gets in the way of smooth operations. If you’re in innovation mode, you might see his (or her) promise but unless young Steve is empowered to do things, he’ll be more of a thorn in the side than an inspiration. People like Steve have a different creative style than the average leader or manager. Creative Style is actually something that can be measured.
Steve became Steve because he was out on his own doing his own thing. If you want to find and keep that kind of talent you’d best make sure you invest in creating a culture that supports people who think different.
It’s not easy.