Leadership lessons

It wouldn’t be right not to have at least one blog on Steve Jobs and his rules on leadership now would it?

There's so much rumor and speculation when it comes to Steve Jobs that it will always be hard to separate the fact from the fiction. Suffice to say that for decades to come he will always be remembered as a significant figure in business leadership like Henry Ford, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

It appears from much that’s written Jobs expected a lot from others (and himself) that is exemplified in a specific story he gave to his new VP's.

Whenever someone was promoted to VP at Apple Jobs would sit them down and tell them a story about a Janitor. He would explain that if the bin wasn’t emptied in his office he would ask the Janitor why. If the Janitor explained that the office lock had been changed and he wasn’t given any keys then Jobs would accept that there was a good reason for the Janitor not to do his work.

It would be a reasonable excuse and as they are a Janitor's they are allowed to have excuses.

"When you're the Janitor, reasons matter. Somewhere between the role of Janitor and CEO, reasons stop mattering. In other words,' (Jobs continued,) when the employee becomes a vice president, he or she must vacate all excuses for failure. A vice president is responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn't matter what you say."

That was Jobs way of explaining that the VP’s had to take absolute responsibility for every possible action under their watch.

It was called the ‘no excuses’ rule of leadership.

Many people believe success and failure is created by fate or that people did, or did not support them which is why they failed – And to an extend this is true.

But a common trait in successful leaders is that they don't totally rely on others. They put contingencies in place, hope for the best and plan for the worst. They set clear expectations and communicate, they follow up. They mentor and train whilst accepting the final responsibility. A reason for this is that leaders discover that the only thing they control is, themselves.

So, Jobs harsh reality of never making excuses, pointing fingers at anyone is where Apple was at during his time - This coupled with a belief that as a leader you’ll do everything you need to do to make sure the plan is carried through to completion.

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