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‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO – Making the Most of Your Manager

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Phil NardonePresident & Chief Executive Officer

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” – Steve Jobs        

As part of the curriculum for this capstone, each week students in both sessions are required to present on a book they’ve read for the course. This week, one of my students (Ashley) presented on the Steve Jobs book, specifically focusing on his, shall we say, unique management style, which is described throughout the book.

In the middle of her presentation, Ashley sprinted up to another student, got about two feet from his face and started screaming at him about how an idea of his was terrible. To say I was surprised is an understatement. But she was making a point; she was showing her classmates how Steve Jobs managed his employees.

Image by Segaman used under CC license

This sparked a heated conversation amongst my students about whether they would thrive or crumble under Jobs’ leadership and which public CEOs they admired most. Names like Howard Shultz, Bill Gates and Tim Cook were immediately thrown out, who have all been praised for their innovative leadership styles.

The discussion brought up an interesting point. In an ideal world, yes, we’d all like to work with people whose management styles matched our learning styles. However, the fact of the matter is, everyone has a different style and having a more unconventional one isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you talk to people who have been in the industry for a few years, many will tell you that they learned the most from those managers who may have been the most difficult to work with or the hardest on them.

As my students are in the process of interviewing for jobs, I wanted to impress upon them that they will work with all types of managers with different styles and ways of thinking. When deciding which position to take, it is important to consider the management style of the people they’d be working with and identify for themselves what sort of manager would best suite their style. Regardless of the type of managers they all end up working with, whether it is their first job or their fifth, I shared three key takeaways with them:

  1. Never compromise your integrity
  2. Remember, you can learn from any situation  
  3. As you progress through your career, your interactions with managers will help you determine how you want to manage when the time comes

So now I turn the conversation to you all and ask you what Ashley asked her classmates: Given Jobs’ demanding attitude and style as CEO, do you think you would thrive or crumble in such an environment? Do you think this way of showing his passion was effective? Had it been anyone else, do you think this type of managerial style would produce such an amazing organization? I’ve heard from my students, now I want to hear from you.

This blog post is part of larger series, ‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO, from PAN President & Founder, Philip A. Nardone, Jr., as he chronicles his experience teaching two capstones classes at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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