Handing over

Steve Jobs’ resignation as chief executive of Apple raises a number of points, most notably, what role should an inspirational leader have in a company they no longer lead?


Steve Jobs’ resignation as chief executive of Apple raises a number of points, most notably, what role should an inspirational leader have in a company they no longer lead?

Steve Jobs’ resignation as chief executive of Apple raises a number of points, most notably, what role should an inspirational leader have in a company they no longer lead?

Although it’s not the first time that Jobs has left the company he built, it appears that this time he is leaving the top job for good. But while his decision last week drew worldwide headlines, including Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, which declared, “Steve Jobs created our world”, the same move is being made by entrepreneurs every day.

One of the interesting points about Jobs’ resignation letter is that he still wants to be part of the company. He writes in his public letter, ‘I would like to serve, if the board sees fit, as chairman of the board, director and Apple employee.’

He continues, ‘I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.’

Despite a long career that has been marked by courage, independence, and brilliance, Jobs still wants to work. He still wants to be part of the company he founded and, quite possibly, the love of his life. It raises the question: after a founding chief executive signals his intention to leave, what role should they have in the company’s future?

It is a delicate balance, and the answer generally depends on a number of circumstances, although the main question must be, how would the person’s continued presence in the company help it grow – would they help or hinder?

Putting aside Jobs for the minute, I think the latter is generally true. Former bosses can never let go, and while they may have many years of experience and know the position, the company and the staff inside and out, there is a reason they are leaving – their time is over.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and Apple and Jobs would probably be one of the biggest. But if the incoming chief executive wants to change the company’s direction, he or she may find it difficult to implement their strategy with a former headmaster in the background. It’s also hard for staff to go to their new leader, while the former and extremely successful chief remains.

It may sound harsh, but a company needs clear direction, and while two heads may be better than one in brainstorming, it’s not the same for decision-making.

Todd Cardy

Todd Cardy

Todd was Editor of GrowthBusiness.co.uk between 2010 and 2011 as well as being responsible for publishing our digital and printed magazines focusing on private equity and venture capital. Connect with...

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