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Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

by Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.

There are an unlimited number of “keys” or “techniques” to consider when it comes to how to be a great leader. Usually we look to leaders we know in our professional circles to learn what works well and what does not. Looking outside your industry, however, can sometimes cause creative, outside-the-box thinking. Steve Jobs is one leader who was well known for transformational thinking, as well as being a dynamic leader. Let’s look at some leadership skills Mr. Jobs recommended.

Focus
In 1997 when Jobs returned to Apple, the company was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a Magic Marker and drew a two-by-two grid. Above the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” Beside the two rows he wrote “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. This is true for products and services.

Think about going to a mechanic who takes all cars versus one who claims to be an expert in your make of car. Which would you assume provides the best service? What about when you see a physician? Would you go to a family practice doctor for knee pain, or would you see an Orthopedist? What dental services are you offering? Is it clear based on your limited service lines that you are the go-to person for...

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