Last week I wrote about Steve Jobs and his “reality distortion fields.”
This week, another Jobs leadership trait worth considering.
In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson points out the incredible focus of Jobs, noting: “Instead of encouraging each group to let product lines proliferate based on marketing considerations, or permitting a thousand ideas to bloom, Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.” Additionally, a clear takeaway from the book was the incredible rudeness of Jobs, and rudeness is putting it mildly, as he strived for absolute excellence.
Separately, I ran across an interesting article recently called The Power of Purpose by Dean Forbes. The thinking that stuck with me was his statement: “When you discover your true purpose, all of your choices become much clearer and you move with reason rather that with randomness. You experience less chaos and confusion in your relationships and projects and you move continuously while others seen to stand still. Purpose fuels motivation and your determination to fulfill you calling.”
What can a leader learn from all of this? Here is my take:
1. Focus the Organization on an Exciting Purpose – Having tight focus on a specific goal is fun. It is like being on a winning team. Contrast that to being in an organization that is simply going through the motions each day, and no real sense of eventually reaching an exciting goal; it is dull and boring and people are underutilized.
2. Hold Out for Excellence – A human tendency is to quit during the journey, typically when an intermediate plateau is achieved. Don’t give in.
3. Be Firm But Courteous; Not Rude -Lots of managers are reluctant to say no and reluctant to demand focus on a small number of high priority things. They sense that would be rude, when in reality they are doing the organization a big disservice. Strong leaders are stubborn as a rock, but do it in a way that the troops are told why and the message is delivered with respect.