Steve Jobs was considered by some to be an arrogant leader who didn’t really care what other people thought about him or his company. When you stop to listen to the words he left behind, however, there are lessons to be learned that show you what he thought was important and how his vision of leadership and innovation was shaped. He trusted in himself, first, to lead and create.
“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
In our work with trustworthy leaders, we find that they are courageous, authentic, and humble. Steve Jobs was certainly not humble, but interestingly, his words and innovative achievements demonstrate that he was truly courageous and authentic.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.”
“For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye. This is who I am, and you can’t expect me to be someone I’m not.”
“Follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Steve Jobs was also tenacious in his pursuit of innovative products.
“Details matter, it's worth waiting to get it right.”
“Innovation is the only way to win.”
Finally, there is no clear evidence that Jobs was interested in leaving a legacy beyond Apple because philanthropy was not a big part of Apple during his tenure. The leaders we have studied have found ways to “enlarge their purpose” by giving back to the community around them after they have perfected their product or service delivery. Yet, Jobs shares…
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful ... that's what matters to me.”
So, how do these quotes from Steve Jobs inspire you? Will you be a more courageous and authentic leader? Will you seek perfection, pursue innovation, and find ways to give back? What can you learn from Steve Jobs?
Karen and Aneil Mishra are business school professors and authors of Becoming a Trustworthy Leader (2012). All quotes are taken from Goodreads.