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I’ve gotta be me (and not Steve Jobs) … by Wally Bock

What's Your StoryFrom Wally Bock:

The Wall Street Journal headline pretty much says it all: “Bio as Bible: Managers Imitate Steve Jobs.”

Here’s the money quote.

“Since Walter Isaacson’s portrait was published shortly after Mr. Jobs’s death last October at the age of 56, some executives have treated it as a sort of management bible, raiding it for nuggets of inspiration.”

This is magical thinking, as if you could turn yourself into the Wizard of Cupertino by reading a few passages in his biography backwards. Gosh, if you’re going into the imitation game, hoping for success, choose something more fun. Try dancing barefoot in your office like Indra Nooyi or drinking a quart of Wild Turkey like Herb Kelleher. Maybe both.

This is crazy. Someone should tell those people what Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

The trick is not to become Steve Jobs, but to see if some of the things he did will work for you. Most of them won’t. Jobs was a unique individual in a unique situation. The odds are that you aren’t the founder of a highly valued company with a special gift for product development.

Don’t try to become someone else. Mine biographies and stories about leaders for things they did that worked. Ask yourself, “Will this work for me in my situation?” If the answer is “Yes,” try it. Keep what actually works. Remember two important things.

All leadership is situational. What worked in one situation may not work in another.

There’s no one best way. Early in my career, I studied 36 top performing bosses. They had a wide range of personal styles and they all were successful.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Steve Jobs was a uniquely talented human being. So are you.


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