Q. How has your leadership style evolved, given your experience running several companies?
A. You can manage 50 people through the strength of your personality and lack of sleep. You can touch them all in a week and make sure they’re all pointed in the right direction. By 150, it’s clear that that’s not going to scale, and you’ve got to find some way to keep everybody going in productive directions when you’re not in the room. And that, to me, is a huge amount of what it means to manage.
Q. So give me an example of what you did to change that.
A. I’d turn people into C.E.O.’s. One thing I did at my second company was to put white sticky sheets on the wall, and I put everyone’s name on one of the sheets, and I said, “By the end of the week, everybody needs to write what you’re C.E.O. of, and it needs to be something really meaningful.” And that way, everyone knows who’s C.E.O. of what and they know whom to ask instead of me. And it was really effective. People liked it. And there was nowhere to hide.
This January 2010 interview sparked a crucial discussion in Seeking Alpha about how to empower and manage employees, and the difference between Mark’s “everyone is CEO of something” and Apple’s directly responsible individuals (DRIs). I met Mark for the first time this week. He said he still believes in the principle of “everyone’s a CEO of something”, but only when your company has fewer than 1,000 people.
Thank you, Mark, for the help you unknowingly gave us.