Advertising

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk Are Great Leaders Because They Have These 2 Opposite Traits

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk Are Great Leaders Because They Have These 2 Opposite Traits
Advertising

It’s the night of November 9th, 2001. The iPod is launching the following morning. Steve Jobs, sits down with a model, plugs in the earphones and listens to a song…only something isn’t right.[1]

Steve tries again, and though it functions, there is something about it he doesn’t like.
So picks up his phone and calls some of his engineers.

Advertising

That night, that team of engineers stayed up into the night redesigning and rebuilding the jacks for 100 demo iPods just so they clicked into place correctly. This they did and the iPod went on to revolutionize the way we listen to music.

Was Jobs’ request stressful? Definitely. Unreasonable? Perhaps, but effective.
He encountered something that made him adapt, and used his opinionated, at times forceful style of leadership to achieve success.

Advertising

They Stand Firm in Their Beliefs But They’re Not Rigid

Elon Musk[2] too has been known to set the impossible for his employees, much like Steve Jobs, and both men are and were unmatched giants in their respective fields.

Both men are known and remembered for their great leadership ability, and unusual, but effective leadership skills.

Advertising

The reason: In presenting their employees such a difficult task, and giving them the freedom and responsibility to take ownership of it, Jobs and Musk allowed their employees to work both for themselves, and for their employers.

This high pressure method of leading could easily be disastrous, if Musk and Jobs didn’t share two character traits, traits that at first seem to oppose each other, but traits that were vital for their success.

Advertising

They were opinionated, yet adaptable.

They knew exactly what they wanted, and worked for their goals even when they seemed unlikely or impossible, but were also able to adapt and deviate from their goals in order to fulfill their visions. Many leaders fear changing intentions in case they appear weak, and often times, directly because of this fear, they achieve little success.

Advertising

There are many examples of businesses and business leaders adapting and changing their original plans to suit new circumstances. Facebook for example, was originally a social network designed for, and exclusive to Harvard students. Nokia was originally a paper company. It took decades for Apple to move into mobile communications…
The opinionated but adaptable character traits be found in some of the greatest leaders in history from Alexander the Great, to Barack Obama, and many in between.

You Can Lead Like Jobs and Musk If You Can Apply These 4 Skills

If being willful, and opinionated, yet adaptable are key traits to great leaders.[3] It could be a good exercise to think of ways you can distill these traits as usable leadership skills. In consideration of the leadership skills of Jobs and Musk, I see four overlapping things.

  • Both men stuck to their opinions and visions, but were willing to change them when presented with new information or changing circumstances (much like the way Steve Jobs found a fault with the headphone jack before the launch of the iPod).
  • Both men trusted their team and their vision so much that they ignored what seemed to be possible so that they could achieve the impossible. It was once said that Jobs had a “reality distortion field”[4] meaning that he believed only in what He thought was possible, and made others believe it too. In the early days of Apple he asked Steve Wozniak to create and build a game for the apple computer. When Jobs detailed his idea, Wozniak said he could build it in a couple months, Jobs had him build it in four days.[5]
  • Both men possess unusual confidence in the work of their companies, themselves, and their employees. The clearest example of this is how Musk has invested $100 million of his own money into SpaceX. In doing so he demonstrates that he is so confident about the work of SpaceX that he is willing to invest a huge amount of money to see its success. Even to the point that he risks the loss of that money.
  • Both men surrounded themselves with the most driven and talented people that they could find, and knew how to use and foster that talent in ways that nobody else could predict. Regarding Jobs again, it is important to note, that although he was a tech innovator, he was neither a programmer, nor an engineer (though of course he probably knew the basics) but was instead more of a designer and businessman. Yet he knew, understood, and was confident in the talents of those around them, those in possession of talents that he lacked, so much that he made them do things that they themselves didn’t think they could achieve. Being around such talent also enabled people to take charge (to an extent) of projects as he knew that they could get the job done.

Reference

More by this author

Arthur Peirce

Lifestyle Writer

8 Promising Benefits of HIIT Workout That Will Make You Want To Start Right Now! We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy Signs of a Commitment Phobe and How to Deal with Him/Her How to Be Your Own Boss with Little (or No) Money

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next