He was not a consensus-builder but a dictator who listened mainly to his own intuition. He was a maniacal micromanager. He had an astonishing aesthetic sense, which businesspeople almost always lack. He could be absolutely brutal in meetings: I watched him eviscerate staff members for their “bozo ideas.” . . . He never mellowed, never let up on Apple employees, never stopped relying on his singular instincts in making decisions about how Apple products should look and how they should work.
Not according to the usual rules, that’s for sure. In the words of Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford University professor, “Most books about leadership read like the Scout manual: CEOs and top managers should be authentic, considerate, sensitive, and modest, as well as creative, smart, and strategically brilliant. All true – but not very useful in the real world, where the person in the corner office might be as approachable as the junkyard dog. Exhibit A: Steve Jobs.”
Go ahead and behave the way he did yourself, as a CEO—as long as you’ve got all of Steve Jobs’ charisma, revolutionary vision, and innovative genius, along with his relentless drive and temper.
To see why Jobs can do all these, you have to go outside Apple to the market, to the culture of respecting winners and heroes, to people’s tolerance to exceptions, to the long existing market perception that Jobs can do art with business, and to the tradition that quality at the cost of anything.