A young Steve Jobs perfectly expresses a leadership fundamental

Every now and then, I’m reminded of a fundamental tenet of leadership. It’s something we’ve all heard before and know on an intellectual level, but oftentimes it slips to the back of our consciousness when we’re dealing with the daily challenges of running a company: Great leaders strive to create a common vision that attracts, excites and motivates smart people to accomplish great things.

The article below looks at one of Steve Jobs’ lessor known quotes on leadership: “What [great people] need are a common vision.” It’s a fundamentally simple concept, but not always easy to create within an organization. Steve Jobs gives some very clear direction on how to lead from a place of vision.

Enjoy the read!

Warm regards,

Sandra Reder

President & Founder
Vertical Bridge Corporate Consulting

Credit: INC., Marcel SchwantesPrincipal and founder, Leadership From the Core

A pre-black turtleneck era Jobs defines the essence of great leadership.

A YouTube video that is circulating the internet shows a young and brash Steve Jobs candidly describing his feelings about management and hiring. It’s a bit comical to hear him lambasting the idea of having professional managers (which Apple once did before firing them all) and calling them “bozos.”

But the quote that got my attention was spot on. With hundreds of leadership quotes by Jobs (some of which are falsely attributed to him) and video clips available with a quick Google search, Jobs nails “what leadership is” in a few words. Here it is:

“The greatest people are self-managing — they don’t need to be managed. Once they know what to do, they’ll go figure out how to do it. What they need is a common vision. And that’s what leadership is: [h]aving a vision; being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it; and getting a consensus on a common vision.”

Nice work, Steve, and I concur. In an age of knowledge workers, it’s imperative that we hire smart people, sure. But then, we must get the heck out of their way instead of managing them to death. To illustrate this with another classic Jobs quote, he once said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”


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