A Leadership Achilles Heel for Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs is the man everyone is talking about in recent days, months and years. He is the icon and leader behind Apple, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He is the leader who represents the future and the leader who inspires the present… But is there an achilles heel to his leadership?

Now, let me be clear, I don’t claim to have the answer to that question. I am just asking the question… I don’t work alongside him, I don’t work for him and  I don’t know him personally. It’s obvious that his impact on the world through his leadership of Apple has left and is leaving an incredible mark on technology and how live in our world today.

THE REACTION: With all this said, it has been interesting watching the reaction to his recent medical leave. Within hours of his email going out to his staff on Monday the news channels around the world were filled with stories and theories about his medical leave. Many were asking whether Apple would continue to function as well without his hands-on leadership.

THE ACHILLES HEEL? So, where is the Achilles heel in all of this? Has Steve Jobs allowed others to depend on him so fully that they cannot function without him? Has he led without bringing others into leadership (and the spotlight), to allow them to continue what he has begun? Has he created a leadership vacuum by leading well in the short term, yet lesser leaders have not been given opportunity to lead in the future? If Steve Jobs was to leave indefinitely, or die at some stage, would Apple continue in the same way or would we see the company collapse?

These are all questions I do not have answers to and it is unfair for me to answer since I am not on the inside track with Apple. Therefore, instead of looking to Steve Jobs and the press and media perceptions of the situation, we should instead, look to ourselves…

OUR LEADERSHIP ACHILLES HEEL? Do others depend on us so fully that they cannot function without us? Are we in the spotlight of student ministry so much, that other leaders are not getting opportunities to learn, lead and grow? Are we doing such a great job in the short term that we are creating a leadership vacuum for the long-term? If we were to leave our ministry, would there be a huge void, or would leaders be equipped to step up and lead effectively?

JESUS CENTERED LEADERSHIP: Perhaps the biggest question we should be asking is this: Do students look up to us more than they do Jesus? Is our personality and leadership overshadowing our Savior? (This is a painful question to answer sometimes)…

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t claim to know whether or not Steve Jobs is leading well for the long-term, only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s imperative that we take a good look in the mirror to ensure that our ministry is not just about us, it’s about Jesus and leading others to effectively do ministry when we are not there… How are you intentionally equipping others for ministry? How are you creating a Jesus centered ministry with an ongoing legacy of leadership?

Phil <><

2 Responses to A Leadership Achilles Heel for Steve Jobs?

  1. Doug Franklin January 19, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Phil, you ask a good question about leadership. Is it good for all the leadership of a ministry to be focused on one person? I don’t think so … it actually hurts the ministry. Jesus gave away leadership to his followers. I think we should do the same. Hey the church could always use more leaders. Great insight Phil … love what your talking about in this post.

  2. Sara Grivas January 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Phil – excellent post, and to speak as a volunteer under your leadership, you do this brilliantly. But, I do believe you left out a huge part of this type of leadership, it’s the amount of time, mentorship and direction that is done before you let go! I have seen leaders use this mentality of leadership you speak of as an excuse of not equipping their leaders and just bringing them in and letting them “run” without the ongoing work of accountability, shepherding, mentorship, prayer support, teaching, coaching and spiritual challenge and guidance that Jesus always gave. He never said, come follow me and then shove them off. He invested in them and walked along side them. This too is the brilliance of your leadership. There is a great balance of you reaching out to your leaders, thanking them continually, challenging them, supporting them and encouraging them regularly, and not enabling them, nursing them or allowing them to lead before you lead them well.

    Thanks for the post, and thanks for the leadership. We were able to roll on practically flawless after you left due to your dedication to developing ministers, and followers of Christ.

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