Someone famous once said something like, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” Apple has certainly flourished and declined with the comings and goings of Steve Jobs. Now that he has stepped down as CEO due to health reasons, what will happen to Apple?
Three years ago I wrote here about the astonishing level of Jobs’ micromanagement style–which he has parlayed into great success for the company:
Jobs is a classic Level 4 Leader, which Jim Collins describes as someone who “catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards.” He may be Level 4 on steroids.
Level 4 leaders are unable to transfer their vision and ability to others. Success for the organization is dependent on them personally. When they go, success goes. Level 5 Leaders paradoxically combine professional will with personal humility in a way that allows their ambition for the organization (not for themselves) to thrive after they leave.
I must say, however, that apple looks very tempting.
And tempting it still is for a leader to control all. More difficult yet (I think) more fruitful and more human is to aim for the Level 5 balance of guiding while empowering others.
We’ll see how the apple tastes three years from now.