Leaders must share their passions in order to attract followers. In the old world, leaders did not have to disclose details about their personal lives or other information unrelated to their businesses. In today’s world, employees, executives, and colleagues are likely to uncover the passions of their leaders anyway, so it makes sense for leaders to publicly embrace them. People are drawn to that passion and want to know what drives it, regardless of its connection to the leader’s job or position.
Conversely, nearly everyone has some skeletons in their closets. It is likely that, at some point, leaders will encounter items online that contain negative or undesirable information about them. There is no way to go back in time to change something in the past. Worrying about it only produces unnecessary stress. Lead the best life possible. If negative information is out there, figure out which items are most undesirable and determine an appropriate response to them. Own up to mistakes without making excuses, and take action to proactively mitigate the damage.
Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, built one of the most successful companies of all time by sharing his passions with his followers. Here are nine “lessons in leadership” from Jobs, illustrating the value of letting people know about the passions and principles that define a leader:
1. Simplify. Jobs demanded that the first iPod not have any buttons on it, including an on/off switch. It seemed an impossible request, but Apple engineers eventually came up with the scrolling wheel–a simple and elegant solution.
2. The power of “NO.” Jobs rejected a device similar to the Palm Pilot so that Apple could focus strictly on the cell phone market. The result was the overwhelming success of the iPod and iPhone.
3. Money is overvalued. For Jobs, it was never about the money. It was about the people he had and how he led them.
4. It is not what you say, it is how you say it. Jobs was famous for launching products with spellbinding personal performances. When he was not on stage for a product launch, that palpable “it” factor went missing.
5. Recognize good ideas. Although Apple did not create the computer mouse or the touch screen, Jobs recognized their innovative benefits and integrated them into Apple’s successful product line.
6. Shun the majority. Jobs avoided focus groups, instead offering the public what he felt it needed. Sometimes this did not work out. That is when he “failed forward” into the next project, taking the lessons he learned with him.
7. Eat your own lunch. Knowing that the introduction of the iPhone would cannibalize sales of the flagship iPod, Jobs forged ahead anyway. Letting go of what is known and embracing the unknown is a real test of digital leadership.
8. Strive for perfection. Jobs was a fanatic about getting everything right–from changing the floor tiles of the first Apple store the night before its opening to replacing headphone jacks just before the iPod launch. For Jobs, a thing was only worth doing if it was done right.
9. Small teams. Jobs kept his iPhone development team separate from other departments, so it could work “uncontaminated” by others’ preconceived notions of what the new product should look like. He kept his teams small and focused.
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