4 pieces of wisdom Steve Jobs shared in 1992 that still apply to today’s workforce
Much has been written about the type of leader Steve Jobs was at the helm of Apple, but in a recently unearthed talk that Jobs gave in 1992 as part of the MIT Sloan Distinguished Speaker Series, he shared some of the managerial wisdom he brought to his role as CEO of NeXT Computer Corp.
Despite that his advice was shared long before the world had ever conceived of an iPhone, an iPod or an iPad, the roots of his managerial philosophy still very much apply to the modern business world.
Here are some grounding managerial philosophies Jobs shared in his 72-minute speech, and how you can use them to be a more impactful leader.
Take a long-term view on your employees
In his speech, Jobs remarks that he sees little value in consultants (with the exception of the ones who have helped sell their computers).
When an audience member questions why, Jobs says that in his view, unless a person has the experience (and “builds the scar tissue”) to see recommendations play out through all action stages, “one learns a fraction of what one can.”
He goes on to explain that regardless of the outcome, being involved in a project for at least a few years results in an opportunity to learn, and to get better. “Without the experience of actually doing it, you never get three dimensional,” says Jobs.
Though investing in an employee’s continued training is often touted as a way to offset the costs of staffing and turnover, his point is an important one for managers to remember as they develop employees.
The more effort you put into nurturing them so that they remain motivated, engaged and productive, the more you and the employee have an opportunity to benefit from that knowledge and expertise.
Good help really is hard to find
Modern recruitment technology has made it easy to post a job and screen résumés in seconds, but finding the best candidates is still hard work that requires your personal involvement and patience.
In his presentation, Jobs says the best people he’s hired have taken him about a year to recruit; and in his experience, waiting to hire the best employee has proven to be more valuable than hiring a person that feels like second best, just to fill the role.
“I’ve always found it best not to compromise. Just keep chipping away,” says Jobs.
Jobs’ philosophy speaks to the value of taking time to recruit and hire the right employee, and in being vigilant about building and maintaining your professional connections.
You never know who you’ll meet or manage over the course of your career, and the value that relationship could have when you have an open position.
Guide employees, but don’t fix their problems
If your employee is struggling to bring a project to completion or doesn’t understand where they’ve made an error, Jobs says not to solve their issue.
“When I see something not being done right my first reaction isn’t to fix it,” says Jobs.
Instead, he says he asks himself a question: “What do I need to do to help so the person who is screwing up learns?”
Though he admits that because that approach is not his instinct and can be “painful sometimes,” Jobs says that over the years, he learned that the answer to being a leader is to help people learn so they become more valuable over the long term.
Know what decisions are critical
Jobs says it’s not good leadership to try to convince people to buy into a decision when they don’t agree with it: “Sooner or later you’re paying someone to do what they think is right, but then you’re trying to get them to do what they think isn’t right.”
Instead, he suggests first determining what decisions are truly important and really need to be made, and which aren’t. “There aren’t that many things that any one team really has to decide,” says Jobs.
Once you identify what those are, get everyone who needs to be involved in the decision to talk it through.