I never knew Mr. Jobs… never spoke with him… never even read a lot about him. But I still know he was a great leader because of the influence he had on Apple — and on each of us. How could one man do that much? What was his magic? What can each of us learn from him about leadership?
There are literally dozens of definitions of individual leadership, but my favorite is: “The ability to have a vision of what the future might be and to convince others to work toward that vision with you.” Wow! Is that Steve Jobs, or what?
The first piece is having the imagination to visualize the future in a very real way. Close your eyes and literally picture what your future looks like. Hold your product. See the packaging. Hear the ads. It has to be real in your head.
The second piece is to see the path to that future and the first steps that need to be taken. You can’t just be a dreamer. You have to also chart the course.
The third element is, of course, getting others to see what you see and work toward that picture. In their book, The Three Laws of Performance, Zaffron and Logan talk about the importance of language being framed in future terms to inspire buy-in and proactive support. Each person on your team has to see why the future you envision is good for them and something they can believe in and work toward.
One final observation is that selling a future brand vision is not a one-speech miracle– it is a process that requires patience, repetition and reinforcement — the kind of life-long commitment that made Steve Jobs one of recent history’s most inspiring, effective and productive leaders.