I don’t think there’s any question that Steve Jobs is the greatest CEO\entrepreneur of all time.
Yes, Gates, Rockefeller, Kroc– these guys were all wonders in their own right, who lived and worked in another dimension. But Jobs’ ability to create, execute and create again, to rise, fall and return greater than he was in each previous incarnation– all of this makes him the best the world has ever seen. For the U.S., a national treasure.
On the recent day when Jobs resigned as Apple’s god, I read a newspaper story that expressed shock that although Steve was known to be a tough, demanding, even punishing leader, he was and is adored by most who worked under his banner. The shock was expressed by a professor or a journalist — I forget which one now– but certainly not by a true business person. A genuine leader.
They understand that effective CEOs are respected more than they are liked. They are known for their steel far more than for their tenderness. At Apple, Jobs was an S.O.B. If he wasn’t, Apple would be buried alongside Coleco in the cemetery of the once and never again early computer also rans.
In stellar companies, the “nice leaders” are the ones who follow the S.O.B. who built them and who then drive them into the ground. What they don’t understand, and lack in their DNA, is that you can be a difficult, impatient, unrelenting general and still be loved by the people you are pushing to their limits of tolerance. Because, and they know this, what they are really doing is demanding that you cross the line from fulfilling your obligations to finding a way to be great.
Like all great CEOs, Jobs led from the front. He never stopped dreaming. He never refrained from asking tough questions and then asking them again and again. He never excused himself from the hunt for innovation– he sat up nights asking how and why.
When I met alone with Gates in the early years of Microsoft’s juggernaut, the only person he thought would possibly eclipse him was Jobs.
He was right. As you hoped Steve, you did put a ding in the universe.Email This Post