What Would Jobs Do?

By Mark Riddix | May 04, 2010 AAA

Fresh off a hugely successful iPad launch, Steve Jobs is hot once again. But the enigmatic leader of Apple has not always been held in such high esteem. Jobs is praised as much as he is criticized. He is the ultimate conundrum because some of the qualities that have made him a successful CEO have also been known to work against him. Let's take a look at a few of the qualities of the Apple CEO.

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A Strong Will

The tenaciousness and singular focus of Steve Jobs has made him a successful CEO at both Apple and Pixar. But his strong-willed nature has also landed him in hot water at Apple. Did you know that Steve Jobs was once fired from Apple Computer? Jobs' stubbornness led to his removal from the company that he helped found. The Apple CEO was canned back in 1985 after a bitter dispute with company management.

Jobs and former Apple CEO John Sculley often butted heads about the future of Apple. Some rumors have circulated that Jobs tried to have the CEO removed while he was traveling on business. His plan, however, backfired, and Sculley convinced the Apple board to oust its founder.

Pride

It takes tremendous belief in one's abilities to create innovative products like the iPod, iPhone, iPad and iMac. Steve Jobs is known for being the genius inventor and brains behind Apple's cool product lineup. Some call it confidence, but critics often refer to it as arrogance.

Jobs' supreme belief in his own abilities has led to Apple developing some duds as well. The Apple LISA (Jobs was removed from this project in the early going), G4 Cube, and iPod Hi-Fi all failed to wow consumers. There was also the hockey puck mouse that Steve Jobs proclaimed the best mouse ever created. The hockey mouse has been included in many "Worst Tech Products in History" lists. Jobs often believes so deeply in his own vision that he may fail to see some of the shortcomings in his own ideas. (To learn more, see CEO Savvy And Stock's Success Go Hand In Hand.)

Paranoia

Jobs guards any and all information about Apple computer like a mother protecting her baby. Employees have to go through several layers of security and are consistently monitored throughout the day. Some reports maintain that Jobs routinely feeds employees misinformation because he is afraid that information will be leaked to competitors or worse yet the media. Two months ago, Jobs forced a newspaper editor to remove a tweet that was sent from an iPad before its release.

He keeps products secret from most employees, even the ones involved in product development. Engineers are often unaware of the final product being made until the product is launched. According to Palm CEO and former Apple senior exec Jon Rubinstein, information is released to employees on a "need-to-know basis." (While Jobs is considered one of the best, check out a few who weren't in Pages From The Bad CEO Playbook.)

Passion

Steve Jobs has become famous for his passionate drive. The same passion that has taken him to the top of the business world has also been unleashed on helpless employees in the form of anger. Jobs presence is so intimidating that employees worry "about getting trapped with him in an elevator for a few seconds, afraid that they might not have a job when the doors opened," according to a 2000 article from Salon magazine.

An Apple engineer showed an iPad to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for two minutes after the iPad launched and was subsequently fired. There have even been rumors noted on allaboutstevejobs.com that Jobs does routine checks of employee iPhones and will fire employees whose phones are not password protected. In a tragic case, a Chinese subcontractor even went as far as committing suicide allegedly after losing an iPhone prototype.

The Bottom Line

As you can clearly see, the same attributes that have made Steve Jobs a captain of industry have also caused him to face some setbacks. Determination, passion, fear and extreme confidence are all traits that have helped to make Steve Jobs the iconic figure that he is today. (For more, check out Hype It Like Steve Jobs.)

Feeling uninformed? Read this week's financial news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Buffett's Armed and Greece Keeps Falling.

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