A great CEO has two conspicuous attributes of which he is acutely aware, a history of leadership, vision and success and a legacy sufficient to generate future success.
By every standard of CEO greatness, Steve Jobs has measured up to both parts of that definition, as demonstrated by his astonishing achievements. Apple Computer has been in existence for thirty-five short years, and for all but a disastrous mid-life dip of twelve years, Steve Jobs has been at its helm.
There are few CEOs who have the ability to successfully nurture a company from its embryonic stage to full maturity. Inventive genius rarely includes the skills necessary to lead the company as it becomes large enough to go public, much less to drive the firm on to become a global giant that can maintain its position at the forefront of communications technology. But that is precisely what Steve Jobs has done.
Steve Jobs created the legendary success that is Apple Computer when he was twenty years old. Five years later, he was at the helm when the company became a publicly traded stock on the NASDAQ. And only five years after that momentous event, he resigned under pressure from his board of directors who replaced him with John Sculley, a marketing man. The next twelve years were disastrous for the company as it racked up billions of dollars of losses. A humbled board of directors reached out to Steve Jobs to resuscitate his own company. Convinced of his own ability to breathe new life into the struggling firm, he agreed to come back without a salary, being paid solely in stock. That was in 1987.