Small Business

Why the world needs more leaders like Steve Jobs

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Thursday was a sad day for international innovation, entrepreneurs and anyone who has enjoyed using an Apple Mac, iPod, iPhone or an iPad. I am talking about a lot of people on this planet.

The death of Steve Jobs ironically coincided with the Gillard Government's jobs summit. And by contrast, there was an important lesson for all of us, but particularly for our politicians, trade union bosses, economists and business leaders who trotted out their predicable ideas at the jobs summit.

Steve Jobs' uniqueness was the way he thought. As Edward de Bono would say, he was a lateral thinker and that's what we need here to solve the challenges of the patchwork economy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of brainstorming forums in business and one thing I have learnt from the greats of business I have interviewed is the best leaders are the best listeners. They set the challenge for their teams and they stretch them by asking them to come up with the possible solutions.

Like a government, in the end the leader chooses the strategy but if he or she has put together a great team, the best option pretty well picks itself.

One good thing about the jobs summit was the address from Andrew Liveris, an Aussie who heads up Dow Chemical. He suggested that we were often too free market in this country and as a consequence we had not exploited better ways of government and business working together.

Now that's a thought – business and government working together. Hold that thought.

Who knows what would emerge if our leaders could embrace this idea? We actually might create a country where jobs are created, productivity rises, inflation is contained and interest rates could be lower.

Right now it is not happening, so maybe a new way of thinking and doing government might be the overdue innovation we have to have.

And that will be the new test for Labor’s leadership. In the past, with its first shot at a mining tax, it was business as usual with the Government deciding to ram home a tax that left the industry up in arms.

The same old-fashioned thinking meant that the pressure from the Greens saw the Prime Minister risking breaking the election promise not to introduce a carbon tax. Ms Gillard’s popularity has been in the toilet ever since and if she doesn’t come up with some lateral thinking soon, she could be flushed down the political S-bend even before the next election.

A positive sign from this week’s forums was Treasurer Wayne Swan embracing the ideas of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia’s boss, Peter Strong.

Labor has been accused of not listening and I have been told this by a number of big business CEOs and leaders of small business associations. The great business leaders don’t live in ivory tower offices – they get amongst their people.

Catherine Harris of Harris Farm Markets said she once saw Woolworths’ old boss, Roger Corbett in one of her outlets actually checking out their prices.

If our government could think like Steve Jobs did – imagine what they might come up with. I guess it would be called iGovernment.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Published on: Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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