Steve Jobs was at the helm of Apple for over 30 years. During this time, the entrepreneur learned a lot about the importance of employee leadership. In the process, one golden rule in particular emerged for him that all managers should observe.

In the beginning, they were a threesome. When Steve Wozniak, Ron Wayne and Steve Jobs laid the foundation for the world’s most valuable company in 1976, all the men were inexperienced founders.

But until his death in October 2011, Steve Jobs served as Apple’s CEO for more than three decades. This meant that he was not only permanently the center of attention, but also had responsibility for hundreds of thousands of employees around the globe.

Thus, the importance of employee leadership has increased on its own with every successful day and every successful year. Steve Jobs – like every other CEO – gained a lot of insights and developed his own leadership style.

Steve Jobs’ quote about employee leadership and smart people

One statement by the Apple founder is of particular interest to managers:

It makes no sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people to tell us what we can do.

Therein lies a realization that is of great importance to many – especially young and inexperienced – supervisors and managers. They must learn to trust their employees and admit to themselves that it is not conducive to the most guided work to interfere permanently.

Of course, (justified) criticism is always appropriate. However, founders make life enormously more difficult for their managers if they are still involved in the old tasks.

Anyone who hires a manager as a founder or managing director must hand over complete responsibility to him or her. This is a difficult step, especially in the early days. It is just as difficult if your own approach differs from that of the employee.

But it is precisely in these cases that founders must trust their employees. Anything else leads to confusion and demotivation. After all, this quickly creates the impression that there is no trust within the company and on the part of the managing director.

And that is very dangerous.