Resources: Blog Post

September 23, 2015

Steve Jobs’ ‘reality distortion field’ — Use it to your team’s advantage

Steve Jobs' legacySteve Jobs was known for his reality distortion field (RDF), a term coined by one of his colleagues to describe his charismatic leadership style. He was consistently using the RDF on the developers of the MAC products. He simply had that power to guide people in a certain direction, towards a certain decision.

“He can convince anyone of practically anything”said Bud Tribble, Vice President of Software Technology at Apple Inc.

Jobs had the ability to pinpoint what it is that a person wants most out of any given situation. He would cater his responses to rebuttals or arguments by highlighting what he believed that person wants to hear: that the proposed course of action will improve their state of living. Improvements could be small, but the larger they were, the more likely it was for that person to fold and bend to Jobs’ will.

What’s wrong with that?

There is no reason any of us could not use such tactics to our advantage. As long as the information that you are feeding someone is accurate then you should feel free to manipulate whomever you please. As long as you are acting ethically and believe that what you are proposing will benefit both parties, then there is no reason not to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the result has to be fair, just as long as there is some improvement on both sides. This is especially true in business.

Leadership traits you must look for

There are, however, other leadership traits that are just as effective that you must look for in order to achieve successful results for your business. Henry Doss wrote at Forbes about striving for the impossible.

  1. Remove organizational barriers. When people are working on critical, time-sensitive, “big” challenges, you can’t allow any kind of organizational drag to hold things up.
  2. Ignore procedural, status quo practices. Mundane rules, operational practices, and procedures need to be put aside.
  3. Accept the risk inherent with urgency. Urgency creates an environment where risk is necessary. Decisions will need to be made with less certainly.
  4. Focus on learning, not blame. Risk-taking will result in mistakes, which should be viewed not as cause for blame, but as an opportunity to learn and improve.

As a business owner and leader, you must be willing and eager to make sure these traits are accepted and encouraged. In fact, it is these traits that create the reality distortion field that enables success.

Do you lead like Steve Jobs?
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Aline AyoubAbout the Author

Aline Ayoub has more than 30 years experience in the conduct of human resources for Hudson’s Bay Company, Loblaw’s and Sears Canada. Aline is also an avid blogger and author of The 10 Essentials Steps To Former Executive Immigrants Getting Their Dream Job. As founder of Aline Ayoub HR Consulting, Aline helps small businesses reduce their time in hiring the right person. She is passionate about coaching and has helped thousands of executives to overcome any of their career challenges.

This blog originally appeared on Aline Ayoub’s HR blog. Posted with permission | Photo credit: ©

Filed under: aline ayoub, apple, leadership, risk, steve jobs, strategy Tagged: aline ayoub, apple, leadership, risk, steve jobs, strategy
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