Steve Jobs Talks about Managing People

Steve Jobs Talks about Managing People

In 2007, at the D5 Conference, Steve Jobs gave a great interview explaining how he structured Apple to operate and managed people as the CEO. Below is what he said about his management and advice to other executives.[1]

“One of the keys to Apple is Apple’s an incredibly collaborative company, and so you know how many committees we have at Apple?” asked Steve Jobs.

“No.” replied the interviewer.

“Zero, We have no committees.” Jobs explained.

“No committees?” asked the interviewer, surprised.

“We are organized like a startup. One person is in charge of iPhone and OS software; one person is in
charge of Mac hardware; one person is in charge of iPhone hardware engineering; another person is in charge of worldwide marketing; another person is in charge of operations. We’re organized like a startup. We’re the biggest startup on the planet, and we all meet for three hours once a week, and we talk about everything we’re doing in the whole business. And there’s tremendous teamwork at the
top of the company, which filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company.”

“And teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time, but trusting that they’re going to come through with their parts, and that’s what we do really well. And we’re great at figuring out how to divide things up into these great teams that we have and all work on the same thing, touch bases frequently, and bring it all together into a product; we do that really well. And so what I do all day is meet with teams of people and work on ideas and solve problems to make new products to make new marketing programs, whatever it is.” Steve Jobs explained.

“And are people willing to tell you you’re wrong?” asked the interviewer.

“Yeah.” replied Jobs, amused.

“I mean, other than snarky journalists, I mean people who are working.” the interviewer clarified jokingly.

“Yeah, we have wonderful arguments.” replied Jobs.

“And do you win them all or..?” the interviewer asked as a follow-up.

“Oh no, I wish I did. You see, you can’t if you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions, and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy; the best ideas have to win so otherwise good people don’t stay,” explained Steve Jobs.

“But you must be more than a facilitator who runs meetings; you obviously contribute
your own ideas?” the interviewer assumed.

“I contribute ideas; sure, why would I be there if I didn’t?” Asked Jobs.

Steve Jobs was known for his unique management approach and ability to inspire and lead people. Here are some of his quotes that capture his thoughts on managing people and his advice for CEOs or managers:

  1. “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” – Steve Jobs
  2. “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
  4. “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” – Steve Jobs
  5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
  6. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
  7. “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs
  8. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs
  9. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
  10. “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” – Steve Jobs

The above interview and the following quotes provide insight into Jobs’ management philosophy, which focuses on hiring talented individuals, fostering innovation, expecting excellence, and inspiring people to achieve great things.