Maintaining an Uncompromising Vision: Why We Should All Try To Be More Like Steve Jobs

Steve-Jobs-Entrepreneur-Picture-Quote-For-SuccessI think often about the roles a company leader needs to fill.  What did the great leaders of business bring to the table that differentiated them from others?  People like Ford, Walton, Welch, Buffett, Jobs, and others.  I believe these men had a vision, strategy and value set which they imprinted on their organizations.  They were uncompromising in this pursuit; they did the uncomfortable and difficult task of always pursuing an ideal, not allowing it to be worn down like waves on rock.

Maintaining an uncompromising vision can be difficult when you are working with others.  The easier and sometimes quicker path is to compromise or settle on a product of slightly lower quality. It is hard to push employees; it is much easier to say, “That’s good enough”.  Requiring that little bit more which makes a product go from good to great is hard and met with resistance.

A great example to emphasize this point is the story of Steve Jobs and Apple.  Up until recently I had no interest in reading and learning about Steve Jobs.  He was too trendy for me.  Further, I never was a big fan of his top down, closed information business model.  The open, more flat structure of Google always appealed to me more and still does.

With that being said, Jobs was a great man of vision who had more tenacity and stubbornness to stick to his view than almost anyone.  If you ever get a chance to watch interviews of Jobs throughout the years it is worth your time. I also suggest you combine that with some accounts from Wozniac which will give you a more complete picture.

What we have with Apple is a founder who pursued a vision of quality products in a closed ecosystem to ensure this quality.  Further, he always had his products push the technological envelope.

Earlier in his career, he was pushed out of his company only to return with a refined, but still un-compromised vision and values.  Enhanced with maturity and experience gained outside of Apple, he came back when it was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Jobs came back to Apple with an improved business sense and refocused the values of the company.  This ultimately built Apple into the company that currently has the largest market cap in the world.  You can’t make up a story that great.

What is even more amazing is how much of Steve’s vision of the future came to be.  He was so prescient it baffles the mind.  It makes you wonder if this was because he willed the future he foresaw into existence.

The story of Jobs and Apple is amazing but you are probably thinking, “What does that have to do with the small time entrepreneur/business owner?”

Regardless of the size of the organization the founder and owner has to be the driving force behind it.  He is the one who sets the path, defines the values and designs the strategy.  He is the one that maintains this and has to constantly instill and re-instill this in the people around him.

Employees and many times partners need to be reminded of what the company stands for, where it is going, and how it is going to get there. It is just as important in a small organization as it is in a large one.

The point is, founders and leaders of organizations have to be constantly building, articulating, and selling what they see as the potential for their organization and reiterating what the organization is about.  They have to maintain this ideal, never allowing the organization, which are the people within it, to stray from this ideal.  The size and scale of the company is irrelevant.  It is a constant struggle but no one else can do it because no one else has the same passion.

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