Thanks for all of the responses about my series on if Steve Jobs ran an accounting department. Today’s installment is about Jobs’ management style. This aspect of Jobs is by far my favorite, because it seems in such contrast to his outside perception of being a difficult person to work with.
“The Biggest Startup”
I found this old clip where jobs talks about managing people:
Even though making products through development and using innovation to run your accounting department is great, managing people is the place that Jobs would have excelled at in running an accounting department. As I wrote in the introduction, this is also the area that rubbed most people the wrong way thinking, “I could never work for a person like that!” It is true that he was abrasive, blunt and unable to change. His wife said, near the end of his life that “he was unable to put himself in other people’s shoes*”. His employees said that he, “had a reality distortion field*” that disconnected him from the real world. By all accounts, on the surface there is no way he should have been successful.
Rest Of The Story:
Debbie Coleman, and early Apple employee said, “he would shout at you and call you an a-hole” and later she said, “I was lucky to have worked for him*”. Jobs believed that he could make people do anything, employee in the early days of Apple created t-shirts that said, “90 hours a week and loving it*”. Jobs was very demanding on his people, but he was also demanding on himself. To the point he compared himself to Albert Einstein and Gandhi saying that this small group were one of the only true creative people. It was a very strange polarization of personalities, but it made people produce at a very high level and created great loyalty.
As an accounting leader, ask yourself, what are you doing to create loyalty? Are your expectations of performance high enough for yourself and the people who report to you? Even if you are a one person show, are your expectations high enough?
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