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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Rating Steve as a Leader

In light of the widespread criticism of Steve’s management style, it’s worth asking how the people who worked at Apple rated him as a leader and a boss. We have part of the answer, and a comparison to other leaders, thanks to a website called Glassdoor, where employees post their comments, rankings, and criticisms about the company they work for. Apple’s employees have consistently ranked it as one of the best places to work in America; the current ranking as I write this is number 10, out of the thousands of companies the website ranks. The negative comments posted on Glassdoor tend to come not from the Apple troops in Cupertino but from people who work in the retail stores, where the tasks tend to be highly repetitive and the chances for promotion few.

It’s interesting to note that Tim Cook, the CEO whom Steve Jobs tapped as his successor, while lacking Steve’s magic and charisma, still receives a ranking from employees almost identical to Steve’s, a near-perfect 96 versus Steve’s 97. For comparison, the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, scored 92, while the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman, limped along with a pallid 76.

Much of this isn’t surprising, but what struck me most about the CEO numbers was this: Steve Jobs was the only person on the list who did not have academic credentials.

The numbers tell us that Steve’s leadership is now part of the culture. I will always believe that criticisms of his leadership style may not be based on complaints ...

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