Leadership Lessons From Apple’s New OS

I had a chance to preview the new Apple OS in action the other day with a developer friend. If you haven’t been paying much attention to the new announcement, Apple is releasing a ton of new and very productive features in their Lion and mobile OS updates. If there is one thing that will get my attention, it’s productivity features in technology!  Apple will be offering cloud services, iTunes synch upgrades, and many other cool little additions to your Mac at home and your iPad on the go. The coolest little feature in this upgrade is the notifications feature. If you have an Android or WebOS powered device then you have been benefiting from a great notifications feature already. Android OS provides for a drop down menu from the top of the screen that collects all of your notifications in one place. New emails, updates, alarms, texts, and all the other stuff that beeps and tweets at you gets collected in this clean and organized manner. Apple took notice, and quickly realized they needed to get this feature integrated into their own OS. So what did they do? They hired the guy that wrote it for WebOS to be their Senior UI Director. I love that!

Apple could have easily had the arrogance to develop something themselves, but they didn’t do that. They went and out and got the expert, basically admitting that this guy can do this better than we can. The result? Raving reviews and a huge win for Apple. There is a huge leadership lesson for us here, isn’t there? How often are we too arrogant to get help? How about leaders that shy away from hiring people better than them? There was a young developer who actually hacked the iOS to write a better notifications feature, and Apple has hired him too!

I had a great conversation with a new leader the other day over coffee. He had assembled his first team, and just finished the first team meeting. He told me he couldn’t believe how much talent some of these team members had. This leader was a new IT director, and one of his team members had a doctorate! I encouraged him with this: sometimes our best leadership moments are found when we simply activate people. Sometimes the best thing we can do as leaders is wisely go grab the most talented people we can get our hands on and then give them all the resources we can to be successful. Don’t get stuck as a leader thinking you always need to be the smartest or most talented person in the room. Don’t be so prideful that you can’t admit that you may need help to execute something at a high level. Apple, one of the most succecssful technology companies today, went straight to the top and hired the best person for the job. They admitted “you can do this better than us”, and it was a huge win. That’s great leadership, and this type of mindset will keep them at the top.

Sometimes leaders simply need to activate people and get out the way. Are their areas in your leadership where you need to get out the way and let your people work? Have you been holding on to certain areas even though you have a team member that could do it better? Consider letting go and activating your people.

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