Steve Jobs Is a Failed Manager, Says Harvard Business Review

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Steve Jobs is frequently held out as the model of a tech industry CEO, but a Harvard Business Review blogger says that his style of management represents just about everything that a CEO shouldn't do.

In his blog, William C. Taylor, a best-selling business author, adjunct lecturer at Babson College, and former associate editor of Harvard Business Review, first gives Jobs his due, and says this:

There's no doubt that the Apple CEO will go down as one of the most creative, visionary, and high-impact leaders of his generation --- or any generation. How many corporate executives can make a legitimate claim to have reshaped not just one industry but four: computing (the Mac), music (the iPod), mobile communications (the iPhone), and movies (Pixar). And how many CEOs can make the legitimate claim that they achieved their wealth and power by making tens of millions of people so unbelievably happy that they worship the company and its products with near-religious devotion?

That being said, he goes on to say that

in terms of his approach to leadership, Jobs represents the face of business --- well, if not at its worst, then certainly not as something worth emulating...Jobs, for all of his virtues, clings to the Great Man Theory of Leadership --- a CEO-centric model of executive power that is outmoded, unsustainable, and, for most of us mere mortals, ineffective in a world of non-stop change.

Taylor cites Jobs' arrogance and top-down approach as unworkable, and something no CEO should emulate. As proof, he brings up an infamous example cited by a Wired cover story last year. The writer says that Jobs regularly parks his Mercedes in a handicapped space in Apple's crowded parking lot, sometimes taking up two spaces. The writer of the Wired piece notes:

Taylor adds that for Jobs

Taylor sums up his attitude towards Jobs this way:

marvel at his products, applaud his feel for design, wonder at his capacity to cast such a large shadow over so many industries --- and, by all means, pray for his speedy recovery and long health.

But don't think you'll do better as a leader by acting more like Apple's leader.

This story, "Steve Jobs Is a Failed Manager, Says Harvard Business Review" was originally published by Computerworld.

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