Top 5 Steve Jobs Leadership Insights

Steve Jobs — he of Apple and Pixar fame — set standards of leadership as a world-class entrepreneur, a visioneer and insightful executive. His innovations — Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Music, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. — affected the lives of billions around the world.  Imagine education without that technology and the innovations it spawned.

Are you a leader of a school or district or do you aspire to be one? Here are Steve Jobs’ Top 5 insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Be a Storyteller

Communicate and share a story instead of lecturing. Jobs was great at portraying and sharing his vision – and he didn’t just present. He entertained, inspired, and moved people with his words. Many consider Jobs the ultimate marketer. Check out his infamous 1984 commercial for the launch of the Macintosh. 

Question for Educators: How do you use storytelling with your students, teachers, parents and community?

Say “No”

When Jobs returned to Apple, he shut down and rejected over hundreds of designs and products. He realized he would rather sacrifice quantity for quality and create A-level products that help people. He said a company would not reach its potential until it knew how to say “no.”

Question for Educators: Are you afraid to say “no” because you may disappoint members of your community? What should you do when you know it is the right decision?

Be Unique

Apple defined its success by doing it their way. Most products are closed systems, only open to Apple and official partners.  PCs on the other hand are open systems where third party vendors can build hardware and software to be used with these devices.

Think of Apple stores — glass windows to see inside, open table displays of products, areas for using new solutions, no checkout areas and a Genius Bar where you can get help and talk with tech specialists. Jobs re-defined the customer service experience.

Question for Educators: How is your plan for your school or district unique? How can you change your “customers” experience?

Sell Dreams

Jobs made his products easy to use for all people regardless of ethnicity, background, or age group. Take the simple design of an iPad. It is a large screen tablet with just one button on the bottom to activate it. The iPad wasn’t a product; it was a way of life. Watch any Apple commercial. They do not sell their products; they sell dreams that can be pursued because of their products. Think Different was a classic Apple campaign that defined their approach.

Questions for Educators: What are your dreams for your school or district? How can you sell your dream to your community?

Shoot for the Stars

Be a visioneer, and focus on your big vision. Never lose sight.  Jobs thought big and this resulted in Apple becoming a household name where people waited in lines for new product releases.

Jobs saw Apple as a lifestyle brand of tech products from tablets to computers and iPhones and more. He didn’t always succeed. His followup to the Macintosh, the Lisa computer, was a commercial failure. His demanding style and refusal to collaborate led the Apple Board to fire him  But he never wavered in his pursuit of the big vision. For Jobs, it’s dream big or go away.

Questions for Educators: What programs or solutions does your school or district need but which may be beyond practical achievement?  How can you lead others to Go For the Stars with you?


Steve Jobs and Success

1984 Macintosh Launch

Do you think these principles can be helpful to you in your leadership? Comment below.


  1. I definitely agree with the storytelling advice. Business is not about selling something. It is about building a relationship with people and helping them better their lives in some ways. Bridging that gap between what you can provide to what they need help in through a narrative is important to showing value within an organization.

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