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Steve Jobs - One of the great business leaders

Posted by Steve Read on October 6, 2011

My sympathy and thoughts go the family, friends and colleagues of Steve Jobs.  His name crops up so often when we talk to people about leaders and leadership.  If we ask people to name ‘the great leaders’, we get a list beginning with political and philosophical leaders – Churchill if we are in the UK, Ho Chi Minh if we are in Vietnam.  Ghandi is a regular contender as is Nelson Mandela.  Next come the explorers and sports people – Scott of the Antarctic, Edmund Hillary, Alex Ferguson and the like. 

When we ask for business leaders, Steve Jobs invariably comes in the top five (along with Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Sergey Brin).  And I would concur with this.  He led Apple from a fledgling organisation with some crazy ideas, through significant financial struggles,  to become a global giant. 

I like the idea that someone who used to scavenge empty Coke bottles for the re-fund to get cash for meals, and got free food from the local Hare Krishna temple, can create something like Apple.  I wonder, when he enticed John Sculley away from Pepsi saying “Do you want to sell sugar-water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”, if he had any idea how true that would be. 

From the way our GUI computer screens look (both Mac and PC), to the now ubiquitous mouse, to Pixar animated films, to me being able to play Angry Birds on my phone – Mr Jobs did help change the world. 

He might have been a micro-manager, he might have been irritable and temperamental, he might have looked a bit scruffy on stage with his roll-neck shirts, faded jeans and worn out gym shoes.  But he was, without doubt, an inspirational leader.  I might go and buy myself that MacBook I’ve been promising myself for years…


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