Earl Breon, a layman leadership advocate, reminds us that leaders, cultures and results are intimately linked.
Technological excellence through leadership and core values is the goal of any organization that hopes to be successful. So, it is no surprise that some of America’s tech firms are not only leading the way in life altering innovation but they are blazing news trail in organizational leadership. From thought leadership to cultural leadership these organizations are changing how the world views everything. But the question is, “How do tech organizations achieve excellence through leadership?
Apple changed how we view phones. Facebook changed how we socialize. Amazon changed how we shop. Microsoft changed how we use computers. Oracle changed how we network. IBM changed how we compute. Google changed how we find information.
They all did this thanks to two simple yet amazingly strong words, Core Values. You see, core values are much more than buzzwords. They are anchors to your organizational goals and culture. They define everything you are and more importantly what you are not. Now, thankfully for us I don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this topic. Our friends at MidAmerica Nazarene University have done a wonderful job of researching and presenting the data needed to support my statements in their article titled, Nothing Less Than Excellence: How organizational Leadership Informs the Core Values of Top Tech Firms.
Two titans, opposite corners
I will let you read the entire article but I wanted to highlight two the values from Apple and Microsoft and their leaders. Nobody will argue against these two being leaders, both the companies and the men who ran them, in computers and technology. These organizations have went head to head for a very long time. Sometimes Apple will win and others Microsoft took the day. They have both been led by very strong leaders who possessed very different leadership styles than most large, high-value organizations were led by in their day.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were always, at the same time, identical and vastly different. Nothing captures that than their personal beliefs. You see, Bill Gates’ philosophy is more of a, “fail early and fail often,” approach. In fact he famously challenged his employees to fail nine times a year so the tenth time would be an amazing success. It wasn’t because he loved failure. He felt there were amazingly valuable lessons in failures and he would be correct. As I wrote here, the only bad mistake is one you make twice. But, the only way to know it is a mistake is to try it and realize that fact.
Now, Steve Jobs was the opposite. He believed in passing up on distracting opportunities to stay focused on Apple’s goals and mission. He wanted to do a few things very well and do them better than anyone else was doing them. He knew technology didn’t have to be ugly, boxy and hidden in a basement. Technology, he felt, could be wonderful, elegant and accessory to your every day life. That is why the evolution to the Apple Watch makes sense for Apple. And because it makes so much sense for Apple, people barely remember Samsung tried to beat them to the punch last year.
These men dominated their industries and built legacies that will last well into the future and they key to that lies in their values and organizational leadership. You see, maybe more so than any of the others on the list, these two were perfect for their respective companies. I firmly believe Apple would have struggled under Bill Gates and Microsoft would have under Steve Jobs. They wouldn’t have failed, just struggled to find their identities that we know today.
Leaders, cultures and results are that intimately linked.
Article originally posted at Earl Breon's Layman Leadership blog.