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Andy Stern
Labor leader

Andy Stern

Andy Stern is president of the two-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest-growing union in North America.

A Sense of Exceptionalism?

Steve Jobs has been a unique and dynamic pioneer in innovation. He obviously is a key leader of Apple, and his health is a factor in the company's health.

But leaders must always be wary of, and their boards vigilant about, company founders or long-serving top leaders being seen as or beginning to believe they are the enterprise, and irreplaceable, rather than the captain of the ship and caretaker and builder of an institution. Top leaders or founders who have a sense of exceptionalism, of being "above the rules," have proven dangerous in too many institutions.

In this case, Steve Jobs and his board had a strategic decision to make, finding a delicate balance between protecting his privacy and maximizing his long-term health on the one hand and his ability to continue to lead with transparency on the other hand, given that his health issues may have a possible destabilizing effect.

That is why we create leadership teams and boards: to make the tough calls. If this was thoroughly debated and decided, I think it was a reasonable judgment.

By Andy Stern

 |  June 22, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
Category:  CEOs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

The relationship of a company to its founder is topic that is well-researched. The best transitions seem to be with highly generic products, like Microsoft Windows. No one ever bought Windows because of its style value or because of Bill Gates's panache. It was (and remains) all utility.

Posted by: blasmaic | June 25, 2009 10:39 AM
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