From the CNBC program “Make It” as covered by Karen Gilchrist and titled, “Former Apple CEO John Sculley reveals the skill that made Steve Jobs a ‘brilliant’ leader” (Yahoo Online, May 26). Expertise? Yes. Dedication? That too. Vision and all the rest? Check. But Jobs had one skill that soared: the ability to listen.
According to Apple’s decade-long CEO, John Sculley, Steve Jobs was a “brilliant leader” because he was gifted with that extraordinary skill: one more time: the ability to listen. A quick sketch of the man and his times at Apple. He was driven and ambitious; powerful in his vision of what the company would be like in 20 years. Listening does not come easily to such figures. No time, no patience with competing sounds all blotted out by the thunders in the head and heart. Go for it. This is it. Get it done. Take no prisoners inevitably mutates one into a prisoner of self, of circumstances, of limitations, of those who anticipate what feeds the ego.
Contentions come easily and harshly even from allies, particularly independent ones. Jobs lived that and then had to leave that behind for 12 years of soul searching and self-discovery. A man is reborn, a different kind of leader returns. The unwavering drive and ambition were still there, but Jobs willed himself to be receptive to the constructive and progressive, even the critical and confrontational. Real leaders do. Test me. Push me. Remake me. And so set me free to deliver. At another level. The overriding key has to be that hard-earned humility; that sojourn into the wilderness for self-discipline and self-learning.
The return of Steve Jobs was brilliance personified: according to Sculley, who knew him as well as anyone, he was “more mature and had a greater willingness to listen to others.” Said a third time, but worth it. Because he was “no longer convinced that he was always right” and “that it opened him up to new ways of thinking” that “were obviously extremely influential.” Makes for consensus and success.
Interestingly, former CEO Sculley noted that industry behemoth, Microsoft’s own CEO, Satya Nadella, is another sterling example of a great listener. Microsoft’s Chairman, John Thompson, when questioned about reasons for Nadella’s success stated that, “He is a superb listener and he has an open mind.” That is why some of Microsoft’s businesses were saved after they had “fallen off track.”
As all Guyanese of honesty and conscience will admit, this country has fallen off track, way off track. It is not anywhere near to its potential. One after the other of its leaders have not listened, are slow to react; or outright dismissive of competing views, constructive objections, and confrontations compelled by failure.
Guyanese do not listen. Worse yet, they listen to those who tell them only what they want to hear. That is neither listening nor influencing for maturing in the needed direction.
That is why this society and all of its peoples are stuck in the same quicksand. Fall off track. Listen to self only. Fall off track some more. Listen to self-serving (only) and self (again). Fall off track still further. Sooner than later, there will be no track from which to fall. Track and time run out.
It might be the patience of locals. Could be the patience of outside governors. On corruption. On dirty tricks. On danger zones that render vulnerable international interests and strategies; international programmes and demands.
The men and women who step forward to take the reins in this country have certain common, dominant characteristics: hear their own voices; fall in love with themselves. Blank out the rest of the local world; many times the world itself. The result has been unchanging: leaders falling over themselves to make failures of themselves.
The bigger problem is a Guyana aloft before the world as failure, too; and lacking in intellect or the graces of sages. Remember: listen.
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