No one can dispute the impact that Steve Jobs, and the products produced by Apple, have had a profound effect on the world. Everywhere you look someone has an iPhone or an iPod — and Steve Jobs has been touted as an innovative genius.
Jobs’ management style, however, is not as simple as his products. This week The Wall Street Journal published an article called, “Successful CEOs Don’t Have to Be Jerks” in which Jobs is compared to another tech legend, Bill Gates.
The article looks at the portrayal of the two CEOs in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. Though there’s no doubt about Jobs’ innovative skills, there is doubt about his ability to manage a company.
The Journal says, “Ultimately, a reader comes away from the book with a greater appreciation for the chief executive. Unfortunately, that CEO is not Steve Jobs, whose successes are well known. It is Bill Gates, the co-founder and former chief executive of Microsoft Corp.”
And a Harvard Business School professor even called Jobs’ CEO tenure, “a cautionary tale.” Jobs is described as a jerk with elegant products, whereas Gates is described as milder with “nerdy” products. Both have had profound impacts on the world.
When it comes to people management, Gates comes out on top (along with other fair-minded and kind CEOs such as P&G’s former CEO A.G. Lafley).
At the end of the day, Jobs was still an effective CEO because of his outstanding vision and leadership, but he could have learned something from Mr. Gates and Mr. Lafley about managing people.