Steve Jobs has been a fascinating case study in this blog for leadership because he was a phenomenal innovator and marketer, while demonstrating a dark side that could demonize people. This is the last entry to explore his leadership conundrum.

 Newsweek this week named Jobs a top Evangelist and stated “equal parts businessman and poet, he envisioned what technology could be –and then delivered it with magnificent products.” He was also vicious, arrogant, stubborn, blind to others feelings and prone to temper tantrums. He was a star in some Emotional Intelligence competencies, while devastated others on the way to success. How do we make sense of these opposite attributes? As leaders what do we emulate and what do we eliminate from our leadership behaviors?

 In the last blog we continued to look at the DSM IV criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder for Steve Jobs as it helps us understand the two sides of Steve Jobs, his motivations and personality. This is exploratory in nature only and educational and not deemed to give him a clinical diagnosis, as he would have to be a client and interviewed personally. Many of these back stories come from Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs. This exploration can help you if you see yourself in any of these descriptions and determine which ones to tune down.

 In the DSM IV, the manual that helps diagnose mental disorders, you need 5 of the 9 criteria to meet the diagnosis. It looks like Jobs clearly fits 6 of the 9. We looked at three in the last blog, two in the second blog on Jobs, and here we will explore the last four.

 (6) Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

 Peter Elkind of Fortune, stated: “Jobs' personal abuses are also legend: He parks his Mercedes in handicapped spaces, periodically reduces subordinates to tears, and fires employees in angry tantrums. Yet many of his top deputies at Apple have worked with him for years, and even some of those who have departed say that although it's often brutal and Jobs hogs the credit, they've never done better work.”

 From Isaacson’s book, there is a story about a project on the Pong game that Steve Wozniak and Jobs did with Atari. Jobs was told if he did the project with fewer chips he would get a bonus. He solicited Wozniak to help him, or actually do it. He said it had to be done in 4 days, which he artificially imposed, so he could go up to an Oregon commune. Both Jobs and Wozniak stayed up four nights to get it done. Woz got paid for the job $350, but Jobs never told him about the bonus or paid Woz for the bonus. Woz found about this out ten years later in a book about Atari. He confronted Jobs who said “I can’t remember it therefore it didn’t really happen.” This magical thinking is an example of Jobs “distortion reality field,” exemplified in previous blogs.

 (7) Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

 This was demonstrated many times, even in is personal relationships. Jobs denied that his daughter, Lisa, was actually his for many years. His ex-girlfriend and Lisa’s mother said the “abandoned abandon”. This lack of empathy for others can be seen as heartless and very challenging to understand. Once he took in his daughter to live with him, there were still many arguments over petty things and he wouldn’t talk to her for weeks and months at time, cutting her off from money periodically.

 While at Next, the company he started after getting fired from Apple, he had to lay off people and didn’t want to give any one a severance package. One of his co-workers explained that he had to at a least give people two weeks severance. So he said “let’s make their firing retroactive then to two weeks ago.”

 Another example is his long time college friend, Daniel Kotke who travelled to India with him. When Apple first went public he denied Daniel founders stock that would have immediately made him a millionaire. Another worker at Apple said to Jobs, "We can’t deny Daniel stock, how about we split it giving some our stock". Jobs said, “Ok let’s give him zero and we will split that.”

 Isaacson, in his book on Jobs, called him “empathy deficient.”

 What is a conundrum though with Jobs is his ability to read others or empathy when it came to products or how to manipulate people for his needs. He was known to say "customers don’t know what they want, we have to show them what they want," and he was unparalled in this ability to design products that met unexpressed needs. This characteristic is a behavior of top performers in the service orientation of Emotional Intelligence and similar to what Chip Conley writes about in Peak when regarding service. His keen empathy was one sided though; focussing on what would benefit him or his company versus true compassion and concern for the individual.

 Bill Gates stated, “He’s in his Steve Jobs sales mode, but kind of a sales mode that also says “I don’t need you, but I might let you be involved.” This characterizes his manipulative empathy.

 (8) Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

 This one is also hard to see evidence of from what we know, although millions of people are envious of him. This criteria does not appear as much of a driving factor for Jobs as the others.

 (9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

 Jobs' life story is full of examples of arrogant behaviors and haughty attitudes to others.

 His first reaction to many design ideas is to say how terrible it is and what was wrong with it.

Disrepecting tradition in Japan and other countries; for example, leaving the gifts they gave them behind.

Ridiculing others in public.

Putting his feet up on prospective strategic partner’s desk while in conversation.

Spending and wasting millions of money to have things his way, like white walls in the factory and special colors on the machines when they were unnecessary and often had things redone numerous times to meet his demands at a great expense.

On Bill Gates, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

Isaacson writes that Jobs felt “abandoned, chosen, and special. Those concepts became part of who Jobs was and how he regarded himself.”

 As you can see, Jobs could easily be diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality disorder. Could he and Apple accomplish so much if he wasn’t? I like to think he could have, and Isaacson agreed in his autobiography. His prickly demanding personality was not the critical factor for his success. Jobs often stated “this is just me” without the awareness that he could or would benefit from changing. Narcissists see no need to change as they are perfect the way they are. Leadership Guru Marshall Goldsmith stated in his book “What Got You Here Won’t get You There” many leadership flaws which Jobs demonstrated including: “This is just me”, “Making destructive statements” and “Telling the world how smart you are.”

 Yes, Jobs was one of the most influential people of this century, and his Narcissism was the driving force for his vision, perfection and success. He is a leadership conundrum for what to emulate and eliminate, which will be studied in MBA and leadership programs for years to come. These last blogs can help deconstruct his complicated nature as we move on to new leading with Emotional Intelligence topics.

 For a summary of What to Emulate and Eliminate from Jobs, go to the blog at www.truenorthleadership.com .

Steve Jobs has been a fascinating case study in this blog for leadership because he was a phenomenal innovator and marketer, while demonstrating a dark side that could demonize people. This is the last entry to explore his leadership conundrum.

Newsweek this week named Jobs a top Evangelists and stated “equal parts businessman and poet he envisioned what technology could be—and then delivered it with magnificent products.” He was also vicious, arrogant, stubborn, blind to others feelings and prone to temper tantrums.  He was a star in some Emotional Intelligence competencies, while devastated others on the way to success. How do we make sense of these opposite attributes?  As leaders what do we emulate and what do we eliminate from our leadership behaviors?

In the last blog we continued to look at the DSM IV criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder for Steve Jobs as it helps us understand the two sides of Steve Jobs, his motivations and personality. This is exploratory in nature only and educational and not deemed to give him a clinical diagnosis, as he would have to be a client and interviewed personally. Many of these back stories come from Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs. This exploration can help you if you see yourself in any of these descriptions and determine which ones to tune down.

In the DSM IV, the manual that helps diagnose mental disorders, you need 5 of the 9 criteria to meet the diagnosis. It looks like Jobs clearly fits 6 of the 9. We looked at three in the last blog. Two in the second blog on Jobs and here we will explore the last four.

(6) Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

Peter Elkind of Fortune, stated: “Jobs' personal abuses are also legend: He parks his Mercedes in handicapped spaces, periodically reduces subordinates to tears, and fires employees in angry tantrums. Yet many of his top deputies at Apple have worked with him for years, and even some of those who have departed say that although it's often brutal and Jobs hogs the credit, they've never done better work.”

From the Isaacson’s book there is a story about a project on the Pong game that Steve Wozniak and Jobs did with Atari. Jobs was told if he did the project with fewer chips he would get a bonus. He solicited Wozniak to help him, or actually do it. He said it had to be done in 4 days, which he artificially imposed, so he could go up to an Oregon commune. Both Jobs and Wozniak stayed up four nights to get it done. Woz got paid for the job $350, but Jobs never told him about the bonus or paid Woz for the bonus.  Woz found about this out ten years later in a book about Atari. He confronted Jobs who said “I can’t remember it therefore it didn’t really happen.” This magical thinking is an example of Jobs “distortion reality field,” exemplified in previous blogs.

(7)    Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

This was demonstrated many times, even in is personal relationships. Jobs denied that his daughter, Lisa, was actually his for many years. His ex-girlfriend and Lisa’s mother said the “abandoned abandon”. This lack of empathy for others can be seen as heartless and very challenging to understand. Once he took in his daughter to live with him, there were still many arguments over petty things and he wouldn’t talk to her for weeks and months at time and cutting her off from money periodically.

While at Next, the company he started after getting fired from Apple, he had to lay off people and didn’t want to give any one a severance package. One of his co-workers explained that he had to at a least give people two weeks severance. So he said “let’s make their firing retroactive then to two weeks ago.”

Another example is his long time college friend, Daniel Kotke who travelled to India with him. When Apple first went public he denied Daniel founders stock that would have immediately made him a millionaire. Another worker at Apple said to Jobs we can’t deny Daniel stock, how about we split it giving some our stock. Jobs said, “Ok let’s give him zero and we will split that.”

Isaacson in his book on Jobs, called him, “empathy deficient.”

What is a conundrum though with Jobs is his ability to read others or empathy when it came to products or how to manipulate people for his needs. He was known to say customers don’t know what they want we have to show them what they want and he was unparalled in this ability to design products that met unexpressed needs. This characteristic is a behavior of top performers in the service orientation of Emotional Intelligence and similar to what Chip Conley writes about in Peak when regarding service. His keen empathy was one sided though, what would benefit him or his company versus true compassion and concern for the individual.

Bill Gates talking about Jobs, “He’s in his Steve Jobs sales mode, but kind of a sales mode that also says “I don’t need you, but I might let you be involved.” This characterizes his manipulative empathy.

(8)    Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

This one is also hard to see evidence of from what we know, although millions of people are envious of him. This criteria does not appear as much of a driving factor for Jobs as the others.

(9)    Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Jobs life story is full of examples of arrogant behaviors and haughty attitudes to others.

  • His first reaction to many designs ideas is to say how terrible it is and what was wrong with it.
  • Disrepecting tradition in Japan and other countries for example leaving the gifts they gave them behind.
  • Ridiculing others in public.
  • Putting his feet up on prospective strategic partner’s desk while in conversation.
  • Spending and wasting millions of money to have things his way, like white walls in the factory and special colors on the machines when they were unnecessary and often had things redone numerous times to meet his demands at a great expense.
  • On Bill Gates, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

Isaacson writes that Jobs felt “abandoned, chosen, and special. Those concepts

became part of who Jobs was and how he regarded himself.”

 As you can see Jobs could easily be diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality disorder.  Could he and Apple accomplish so much if he wasn’t? I like to think he could have and Isaacson agreed in his autobiography. His prickly demanding personality was not the critical factor for his success. Jobs often stated “this is just me” without the awareness that he could or would benefit from changing .Narcissist see no need to change as they are perfect the way they are.  Leadership Guru Marshall Goldsmith stated in his book “What Got you Here Won’t get You There” many leadership flaws which Jobs demonstrated including: “This is just me”, “Making destructive statements” and “Telling the world how smart you are.”

 Yes Jobs was one of the most influential people of this century and his Narcissism was driving force for his vision, perfection and success. He is a leadership conundrum for what to emulate and eliminate, which will be studied in MBA and leadership programs for years to come. These last blogs can help deconstruct his complicated nature as we move onto to new leading with Emotional Intelligence topics.

For a summary of What to Emulate and Eliminate from Jobs, go to the blog at www.truenorthleadership.com .

About the Author

Dr. Relly Nadler

Relly Nadler, M.C.C., is a licensed psychologist, author and Master Certified Coach (MCC) for executives and executive teams.

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