Contrary to popular belief, there was an evolution of Steve Jobs Management style during his career. Yes that’s right – even Steve Jobs recognized (albeit not publicly) when his Management style failed, and attempted to make course corrections the next time out. Perhaps early in his career, Steve Jobs personality was such that there was little bandwidth (no pun) for processing his own Management style. However, over the years he did make changes that contributed greatly to his success in the 2nd , 3rd and 4th acts of his business career. Imagine that. You may have more in common with Steve Jobs than you thought, although you wouldn’t want to try and imitate his Management style. In fact, what I’ve found over the years is that great Managers invariably develop a style that dovetails their own personality first – and then refine and enhance the effectiveness of what makes that style work for them. That might sound counterintuitive: Don’t I want to fit my personality into a proven, made-for-success Management style? In my experience owning and/or operating a number of businesses and managing hundreds of employees: THE most critical element of any highly effective Management style is how well that style fits the personality characteristics of the Manager.
I began selling PC’s back in the 80’s. That was back when a Reseller (VAR) needed an IBM/HP/Apple/Compaq (now I’m dating myself) medallion (actual storefront) to sell PC hardware, software, service and training. I was fresh out of college. My first Manager at Moore Business Systems in Boston was a 30 something, chain-smoking Midwesterner whose personality could best be described as easy going, back-slapping “what works best - is best” guy who had adopted a “by-the-book” (literally by the Moore Business Systems book) Management style. Not only did his style not fit his personality, it ran contrary to an industry where there was no book to follow – mainly because the book was being written every day! It was almost as if he had read the latest Management how-to book and tried to take on the persona the book depicted. Otherwise, he’d sit in his office most of the day and study inventory reports. We’d only see his high-spirited, engaging personality after hours. A complete disconnect between the Management style he had adopted and his personality. As you might expect, that Manager underachieved and ultimately lost most of his talented employees including me.
After securing some very good Corporate clients, I moved on to BusinessLand where my new Store Manager from NY was outgoing, outspoken, opinionated and determined to commit those traits to my success and the success of the store. His first move was to forgo the corner office in lieu of the conference room in the middle of the space where everyone could see and hear him. Back in the early 80s this was considered completely out of the Management playbook. His door was always open and he thrived on communicating every success, no matter how small, to the entire team. Even if it meant standing on his desk with his hands over his head yelling about the day’s success story. He kept building his Management style around his personality. He was completely comfortable in his own skin, and uninhibited in applying his craft.
“In my view, this was because he started with his own personality, extended it to meet the Management needs of the business, and continued to refine and enhance that style to achieve success.”
It started with knowing who he was. His store was consistently in the top 10 nationally (well over 300 stores) in terms of sales, growth, profitability and employee retention.
What is YOUR personality? What Management style best suits you?
Oh, and a side-note about Steve Jobs. Two weeks before he passed away BWN quietly received an email from Apple asking if we could remove Sjobs at apple.com from BWN TechWatch and ExecWatch newsletter lists. The email created quite a stir here and I recall at the time thinking this is either a prank or an ominous sign. Like most people I never met Steve Jobs – but perhaps that didn’t stop us from sharing some ideas about Management.