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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

More on Constructive Feedback

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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