Why Your Picture of Steve Jobs is Ruining Your Leadership Effectiveness

We seem to admire this picture we’ve created of the famous Steve Jobs. And why wouldn’t we. Steve created arguably the most successful company on the planet. We admire his “take no prisoners” drive and his incredible focus. Unfortunately I think we’ve unknowingly let some of the folklore influence how we lead.


There is this famous story of Steve Jobs getting into an elevator with an intern and asking him what he’s working on, then promptly firing the poor guy before arriving at his destination floor. In fact, it seems like so many of the stories we hear are around Steve firing team members.

Take a look at this clip for example:

You might say that this is just another example of Steve firing someone out of thin air, but I think there is something more important to notice here. 

Some believe that Steve had an opinion about everything, that there wasn’t a single part of any product that he didn’t “control”. But think about that for a minute. How many hours a day do you think it would take for Steve to hands-on micromanage every aspect of Apple’s operation? He couldn’t. It’s mathematically impossible. 

Go back and watch the clip again. Did you notice what Steve was focused on? He wasn’t focused on which “pretty font” the team was choosing.

We seem to believe that Steve would have been focused on that. The "folklore Steve" would have walked into the room and said “Arial font, are you crazy? Everything must be done in Helvetica!” But he didn’t do that. 

Steve was focused on vision. 

Our job as a leader of leaders it to drive the team forward towards the common goal. It’s the team’s job to align with that goal, to align with that vision and implement it. 

It’s very tempting to walk onto your campus every Sunday and jump into the details, but what’s even more important is that, as a leader, you walk onto your campus every Sunday and measure it against your values.

When you see a problem, ask yourself, does this align with our values? 

Only then, approach your team leader and discuss the misalignment…not the problem. 

Here’s why…YOU’RE TOO RESPECTED. If you just share your opinion, chances are you won’t get much pushback. The team will just implement your idea…but you’ll only have fixed this instance of the issue, you won’t have fixed the underlying problem. 

Instead, have your team help you solve the underlying problem. Chances are it will apply to more than just the “issue” that brought it to the forefront. 

Warning: This is a 90/10 Book

As a church leader you manage a lot of people. Some may be on the pay roll while others volunteer out of the goodness of their heart. Either way, they deserve to be managed well. The following is a review of a well intentioned but miss guided book. Don't worry, there is still something very valuable hidden in it's pages. 

It's Okay To Be The Boss by Bruce Tulgan [Book Review]

Warning: “It’s Okay To Be The Boss” is a 90/10 book. 10% of these pages are packed with value, but the other 90% may take you so far down the wrong path you may not recover.

Tulgan argues that the cause of poor performance is under management.

But his solution to this problem is over management

And let’s be honest, when’s the last time you gave a top performance because you were being micromanaged?

So what about that 10%? Where’s the good stuff?

Everything you need to know from Mr Tulgan is right here:

Your job as a manager is to…

  • provide direction and guidance
  • hold people accountable
  • deal with failure
  • and reward success.

That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

So instead of over managing, always be ready to say, “Here’s what I need from you. What do you need from me?”

The solution to under management
isn’t over management,
it’s clear communication.