Steve Jobs wasn’t the easiest CEO to work for, but those who did work with him were willing to put up with his high standards and intense demands.
Even though Jobs would call his engineers on holidays and weekends, they felt the experience of working with him was worth it.
Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s book, “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader,” portrays this side of Jobs.
Here’s how they described Jobs’ relationship with his engineers while working at NeXT:
Steve’s arbitrary decisions dumbfounded those under him at NeXT, and his micromanagement gave them no peace. He assumed they would work nights and weekends. He wouldn’t hesitate to call them at home on Sundays or holidays if he’d discovered some “urgent” problem. And yet hardware and software engineers still could not resist working for Steve Jobs.
Steve understood the sensibility of engineers. Engineers, at heart, are problem solvers. They thrive on digging their way out of sinkholes, especially the gnarly kind with no clear path forward. Steve challenged them in ways they had never imagined. No one else in the computer business had such radical goals and expectations; no one else seemed to care so much about their work. The idea of creating a computer that could transform the very process of education was cool; but to his incredibly talented programmers and gearheads, the idea of creating this particular computer for this particular boss was irresistible.
But it wasn’t just engineers that loved working for Jobs at NeXT – Ken Rosen, a managing partner at consulting agency Performance Works, worked in the emerging markets manager of Jobs’ company in the late 1980s’ and early 1990s’. He said Jobs was tough, but it was worth the experience. Rosen said he learned one of the most valuable management lessons of his career while working with Jobs.
“He just really wanted to develop an organization where people knew what good products were,” Rosen said in a previous interview with Business Insider.