But it was a rather more common interpersonal skill that turned him into a "brilliant" business leader, according to former Apple CEO John Sculley.
That skill? The ability to listen.
Sculley, who served as Apple's CEO for a decade from 1983 to 1993, told CNBC Make It that ability did not come naturally to Jobs. Rather, it took 12 years and a contentious departure from Apple to hone it.
Jobs famously resigned from Apple in 1985, aged 27, following a clash with Sculley (a former ally) and Apple board members over the strategic direction of the company.
In the 12 years that followed, Jobs founded another computer software company, NeXT, before returning to Apple in 1997.
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 following the purchase of NeXT, he was a "different person," said Sculley, who previously led Pepsi.
He described Jobs' two tenures at Apple as Jobs 1.0 and Jobs 2.0.
Jobs 1.0 was characterized by unwavering ambition, but Jobs 2.0 was more mature and had a greater willingness to listen to others, Sculley said.
"Steve was brilliant in terms of seeing where the world would be 20 years in the future. He was so charismatic that he convinced himself, as much as he convinced other people, that he was always right," Sculley said of Jobs 1.0.
"But young Steve Jobs was not as good at listening as the Steve Jobs that came back years later," he continued, noting that it opened him up to new ways of thinking.
"His life experiences between 1.0 and 2.0 were obviously extremely influential."
In the years that followed Jobs' return to Apple, he was considered largely responsible for reviving the business from the edge of bankruptcy.
Today, under the leadership of Tim Cook, who replaced Jobs as CEO shortly before his death in 2011, Apple ranks as the world's second-largest public company by market capitalization.
Recently, Sculley said he met with Microsoft's chairman, John Thompson, and asked him how he accounts for Nadella's success, to which Thompson replied: "He's a superb listener and he has an open mind."
"It's that openness and willingness to listen," said Sculley, who said Nadella saved the businesses when it had "fallen off track."
"That really made a huge difference at Microsoft."
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