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What Companies Can Learn From Steve Jobs About People and Development In Down Times

The changing face of the workforce means a growing gap in certain skills. Specifically, leadership and management skills. This gap, by its nature, extends to gaps in effective leadership as well. Communication, decision making, management, and strategy. As people retire or move toward telecommuting, the need and demand for highly effective leadership skills is growing. This is important for all matters of business and industry.

What We Can Learn From Steve Jobs About Why Leadership Development is More Important Than Ever

Investing in leadership development is vital for a company or organization to survive and thrive. It’s also one of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition. Companies often cut this back during lean times. This is a common mistake. A great example is how Apple catapulted up the Fortune 500: They invested in people and continued to invest in down times. Quoted from a 2008 Forbes interview with Steve Jobs:

“We’ve had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren’t going to lay off people, that we’d taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place — the last thing we were going to do is lay them off. And we were going to keep funding. In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that’s exactly what we did. And it worked. And that’s exactly what we’ll do this time.”

– Steve Jobs, Source: Forbes 2008

Examples of Leadership Qualities and Why They Matter

What are Leadership Skills That Need More Attention Than ever?

A good leader or manager needs to wear a lot of hats in their role. People from across the board depend on them to guide, make decisions and inspire people. They need vision, strength and great communication skills.

1. Genuine Integrity

Honesty and integrity are absolutes when it comes to leadership. People need to believe and trust their leaders, as do clients, customers and other leaders. Integrity also means having strong ethical values.

2. Decisiveness and Resilience

This means everything from hires and fires, budget, investments and everything in between. Making decisions quickly means more productivity and efficiency. This is something that will become second nature when you are familiar with all aspects of the company.

3. Team Building

Good working relationships are the backbone of any corporation. People need to feel they are an important part of the workforce, they are respected and what they are doing matters. They also need to be able to appreciate the roles of everyone else and understand their importance in the big picture.

4. Critical and Strategic Vision

This is essential for companies to succeed and progress. Just like being able to make decisions, you need to be able to see them in advance. You also need to see where things will have problems and have more than one solution to any hiccups along the way.

5. Self Awareness

This means believing in your abilities and your areas that need work. It also means owning them both. Admitting you need to learn is honest and it allows people to see you as fallible. It makes you trustworthy and approachable. It makes you real. Great leaders keep the company moving, they are one of the biggest assets for retaining your employees and much of the success of the company rests with them.

With the aging population who are in the leadership roles in corporations set to retire, companies need to be ready to fill these positions. It’s a very good idea to tap into the knowledge these leaders have and let them train the next tier of leaders.

Younger people have a different view of work and work ethics. Many of them are not interested in staying with a company for years and years to climb the corporate ladder. But, corporations still need them.

Investing in Leadership Development

Depending on your particular field, tailor made leadership programs are an essential part of your corporation. It’s not always easy for people to move up into a managerial position without training and mentoring.

First, define what your needs are. This may include the changing face of your organization, like full digital transformation. What types of skills and workers will you need for that.

What are your short and long term goals? Will there be expansions or layoffs? The leaders need to be prepared for all the demands the organization will be facing.

Focus on Effective and Relevant Development

The best way to get people ready for leadership is to let them try firsthand. This can be done through mentoring and leadership development simulations.

Mentoring: This is a perfect way to tap into all the experience and knowledge of your senior leaders before they head off to the golf course. Team them up with the next leaders to share, form and help them to succeed. Teaming up your trainee with a seasoned staff member is one of the greatest resources you have. The focus of the mentor is the leadership development program you have in place.

The replacement leader needs to develop all the necessary skills for becoming a leader and moving up into that position. These leadership skills will be determined by your unique corporation and your needs.

Leadership Development Simulations

Leadership development simulation programs that allow the learner to move at their own pace and their own time. They can be a video or mobile app that requires interaction for a real-life situation. These are excellent ways to learn and the learner retains much more information.

These simulations provide a great deal of what managers will be doing in their new roles. It allows them to make decisions, make mistakes and get experiences that will carry them through their upcoming new role.

These programs let people see the consequences of their decisions, and it gives them every possible situation that may occur. It also provides a chance to redo them, see other outcomes and all within a risk free environment.

It makes the learning fun and people will retain much more information when it is an experience, rather than just something they read. People will also learn a lot faster and you can monitor and record the results.

These simulations can happen at any time and they can be very specific for your particular organization. It gives the trainee excellent feedback which provides excellent motivation.

Develop Your Future

Moving people up the corporate ladder means fresh ideas, new methods and a modern vision. Moving people into these roles without sufficient training and development is a recipe for disaster.

Just because someone has been with the company for many years and seems to be a keen observer, doesn’t make them ready to take on a leadership role. Training and development are key to keeping the company vision alive.

The younger people in your organization are the future of your organization. You need to develop their leadership skills to ensure they don’t fail, become discouraged and leave. Your future depends upon it.