Steve Jobs and Emotional Intelligence

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs’s style of management was a hot topic both during his life and remained so after his death. An interesting article on Thrive Global from earlier this month wondered whether or not the Apple founder emotional intelligence.

He certainly found a way to motivate and inspire many of those he worked with, along with millions of consumers around the globe–even across language and cultural barriers. These are all signs of exceptional social awareness, as well as the ability to influence, which is a key aspect of relationship management. But what about Jobs’s communication style, which angered and frustrated many? He had become known for wild emotional swings and was perceived as arrogant and narcissistic. His manner pained many–including his family and others with whom he was close. Jobs himself blamed this on a lack of self-control. When his biographer Walter Isaacson asked him why he was sometimes so mean, Jobs replied: “This is who I am, and you can’t expect me to be someone I’m not.”

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2 thoughts on “Steve Jobs and Emotional Intelligence

  • The article proposes that emotional intelligence and emotional goodness aren’t the same thing. If we extend this idea, then politicians, cult leaders, advertisers, propagandists, con men, etc. may have an exceptionally strong sort of emotional intelligence that gives them extreme powers of influence, persuasion, manipulation, and domination, even if they lack or discount empathy, compassion, and kindness.

  • I feel deeply indebted to Steve Jobs for the genuine joy that Apple computers and gadgets – from the Mac to the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad – brought me over so many years. Apple products have also helped me immeasurably in work, school, and recreation. I saw him in person several times, enjoyed his amazing presentations, and I was truly heartbroken when he died in 2011. Most interesting to me were his answers to questions, which usually seemed well-considered and were often brilliant. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he was really a jerk to a lot of people!!

    The advice “be yourself” isn’t good advice if you take it as “be as mean to people as you want to be.” Perhaps better advice is “be the best possible version of yourself.”

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