Is it better to be feared or loved? Machiavelli says a Prince would ideally like to be both one and then the other but it’s impossible. Given a choice it’s safer to be feared but a Prince must avoid being feared to the point of hatred. Machiavelli’s dissertation still ranks as the classic analysis of executive power.
This THNKR TV video reviews Steve Jobs, an ill-mannered loner, oddball perfectionist, and mercurial two-time leader of Apple. Under Jobs’ leadership Apple reinvented computing in the 70s and 80s. Fired by his own board in the mid-80s he returned in the mid-90s, rescued Apple from near-death, and within 15 years made Apple the largest capitalization stock on the planet by reinventing the music industry, the mobile phone, and tablet computing. Steve Jobs was feared by those who knew him but not to the point of hatred and he was loved by those who didn’t know him—his customers. In other words he pulled-off the thing Machiavelli said was impossible.
Steve Jobs’ relentless pursuit of beautiful design combined with simplicity in user experience made Apple number one. But we can’t help wondering if being feared and loved by the right people at the right time wasn’t his real mojo.