Harvard Business School Gives Steve Jobs An "F"

Apple CEO Steve Jobs (400x300)

As a visionary, Steve Jobs gets an A, but as a manager he fails, writes Babson College professor William C. Taylor on his Harvard Business blog.

We’re disinclined to believe it matters what kind of “manager” Jobs is so long as Apple continues to revolutionaize the industry and all.

But the prof. has a contrary take and we like those, so here’s the bullet-point version of his argument:

  • Jobs’ approach to leadership is “unappetizing and downright retro.”
  • Jobs follows the “Great Man Theory of Leadership — a CEO-centric model of executive power that is outmoded, unsustainable, and, for most of us mere mortals, ineffective in a world of non-stop change.” (Here Taylor talks about how Jobs’ frequently parks his Mercedes in handicapped spots because he believes regular rules don’t apply to him.)
  • Jobs suffers from “smartest-guy-in-the-room syndrome,” which is a recipe for failure because “nobody alone is as smart as everybody together.”
  • Jobs has ambition rather than “humbition.” Humbition is “the subtle blend of humility and ambition that drives the most successful leaders.”

Taylor signs off with these words of warning: “But don’t think you’ll do better as a leader by acting more like Apple’s leader. Trust the art, not the artist.”

Image: Armin Talic

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