Steve Jobs was the superstar savior and genius driver of Apple. Fans, customers and shareholders could not discuss Apple without bringing up Jobs' name, or vice versa. When a corporate leader becomes an icon, it is a sort of co-branding... but if that icon is seen as the only bright light in the building, that star quality can represent a perceived softness or fundamental weakness in the organization. At some point, the savior must gracefully begin the difficult process of becoming a servant of that which he or she has created.
If the departure of a celebrity leader is viewed as a tragedy (i.e., in that he or she was the cornerstone upon which the entire corporate success and structure was built), the departing leader leaves behind a legacy and an empty husk.
Aside from avoiding the otherwise inevitable public relations nightmare and crisis of confidence, it makes very good sense for a leader to be certain that he trains, empowers and speaks highly of his high-level organizational colleagues and possible 'someday successors' (calling them "peers" or "team members") and that he or she gives a greatest portion of the glory to the organization. All of us need to believe in an organizational structure that can survive and thrive even after the departure of its shining star.
In building your organizational image, be certain that you've attracted and prepared a powerhouse of successorship prospects, and that it is known that you have participated in the design of a well-constructed enterprise that is much bigger than its founder, one-time savior, or any one individual who serves it.
The ultimate strength, and the perception of the ultimate strength, must rest upon the edifice, and not the architect.
There is wisdom in being certain to give others great credit, and to make it abundantly clear that the structure which you have helped to make is your synergistic superior; that you now live to serve it, and not the other way around.
Douglas E Castle
An article of interest follows. I am a big fan of both Steve Jobs and Apple, but there is also a lesson of great value to be derived from this turn of events. I wish Steve a long-overdue rest, minimal pain (as he has endured so much of it), and maximum joy for the balance of his life. And yes, he is a true visionary, a brilliant man, and one of my heroes.
TODAY - August 24, 2011
The head of the tech giant steps down but becomes chairman of the company's board. Stock sinks after hours
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