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Leadership. All welcome.

By Mark Busine

Mark Busine Whatever you think of Steve Jobs as a leader, entrepreneur, or person—there is no question he changed our lives profoundly. His passion and creativity led to the development of products that now form a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives. One of the most profound contributions that Jobs made was his approach to democratizing technology and making the computer cheaper, more intuitive, and accessible to everyday people. At a time when technology was still in the hands of engineers and scientists, Jobs championed the view that everyone should have access to computers. The goal was to create technology that connected with end users; technology that put the power and advantage of computers in the hands of anyone and everyone.

Leadership for AllIn today’s world we take this for granted, but in its time it was profound. The goal that anyone should be able to use a computer seemed destined for the “too hard basket.” But Jobs’ unrelenting focus on this vision ultimately facilitated the development of products like the Macintosh, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. It fundamentally changed the way we view design and taught us that technology (in all its forms) could be both practical and beautiful.

I don’t need to look too far for evidence that Jobs’ vision has been realised. At 71 years of age my mother received her first piece of technology last year—an iPad. With very little instruction she now stays connected with family and friends via Facebook and email, checks online for updates to her bowling league ladder, and despite my perennial harassment, keeps in touch with the latest happenings on “Bold and the Beautiful.” Jobs was right—it is possible to put computers in the hands of everyone.

What if we applied the same vision to leadership? What if we embraced the idea that anyone and everyone should have access to the opportunity to lead? What impact could this have on organisations and society more broadly?

Sound crazy? So did the idea of putting computers in the hands of everyone back in the early 1980s. The mindset required to deliver on this vision is fundamentally different to our current view and approach to leadership. Jobs never set out to create computer scientists. He set out to change the way we all access and interact with technology. It was this philosophy that was fundamental to the development of Apple’s products, and ultimately its commercial success.

Leadership is such a fundamental part of our society. Whatever domain of life we choose to engage with, leadership profoundly impacts our experience. A small shift in leadership capability will have a deep impact on the lives of so many people; those who lead and those who choose to follow.

In the end, will everyone become a CEO? No. Will everyone become a leader? No. That is OK. Just as Jobs never set out to create computer scientists, this is not about the pursuit of ambitious leadership aspirations. This is about putting the skills of leadership in the hands of everyone and giving them the opportunity to be the best they can.

For access to an important and ongoing resource that can benefit new leaders now and throughout their careers visit:

Mark Busine is managing director for DDI Australia.

Posted: 08 May, 2015,
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