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Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California. His newest book is 'Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.'

Putting the "I" in "iPhone"

Isn't it ironic that one of the early mavens of transparency, with his lap tops, iPhone and iPod, has been himself one of the least transparent leaders, especially about his own medical problems?

But in Jobs' case transparency is trumped by a far more important issue. He has allowed himself and obsessively contributed to the aura of being the only person, the virtual cover boy, maybe the only person who really works at Apple. It is all about "I" (phone or whatever) not "we." (How about a WePhone somebody?)

The egregious problem with Jobs' "one-man-band" show (and not tell) -- and a major symptom of bad leadership -- is his failure to create a leadership succession plan or develop a visible cadre of capable successors. His peekaboo behavior since coming clean about his pancreatic cancer in '04 has seriously damaged Apple.

By Warren Bennis

 |  June 23, 2009; 9:19 AM ET
Category:  CEOs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It was my understanding that the "i" stands for "internet" and not "me". And Apple seems to be doing fine in Job's absence - if he successfully creates the correct culture of innovation, ease of use and design at Apple and spreads it through his organization, the question of who specifically will take over as CEO after him is likely irrelevant. Poorly run companies depend on one individual and require succession plans for a specific leader. Well run companies do not, and I believe Jobs has moved Apple greatly in the direction of the latter.

Posted by: peter44 | June 23, 2009 12:27 PM
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"...one of the least transparent leaders, especially about his own medical problems?"

Business leaders have to publicize their medical problems? Fair's fair - Mr. Bennis, please tell us about your medical problems now.

Posted by: ClarkKent1 | June 23, 2009 11:42 AM
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