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Hi Professor Sutton,

Great post - its interesting that you mention overattribution of value of leaders - does this play into executive compensation and is there a more effective way to measure the value of leadership? Kind of an interesting question.

On a related but sidenote, is there any actual evidence of what Steve Job has done at Apple? You have to admit, it just feels a bit unlikely that he singlehandedly masterminded the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. Is there some smoke and mirrors here? I don't disagree that he's an impressive guy, but I wonder what his actual contribution was relative to other 32,000 folks on the payroll?

Wally Bock

I hope you're right, Bob, because lots of good people work and an invest in Apple. BUT, I still disagree. I think there are functions around the development and marketing of new products that Jobs has taken to himself. Apple may be more robust than before, but I don't see them as using those muscles and I suspect they'll be atrophied when Jobs leaves. I say this without real firsthand knowledge, so I may have a bad set of datapoints. But it's what I've got.

As for the Journal story about Jobs checking in from home, I remain a cynic. I suspect he really is doing it because letting go is not something he's good at. But I suspect the story is more about letting the world know that Steve J is still on the job and the Empire is safe.

Jeff Bulman

Bob - Great article. Unfortunately CEO's do get to much attention. Jobs knows the details but very few do. Consumers care about their iphone/ipod and what it will do. No one buys Steve Jobs at the Apple Store.

Bob Sutton


You have a point, and indeed, last time he left Apple, they suffered. But they are a more mature organization with more strong leaders and much more robust system. But if any leader of a big company makes a big difference in a positive direction, it is him. I noticed the Wall Street Journal today said he is still involved in major strategic decisions from the sidelines, working from home -- so he may be still working some magic.

Wally Bock

I think you're right about the "Cult of the CEO" but I think another point bears mentioning. First, I disagree with Sanjay. I think Apple will suffer big time when Jobs disappears. That's not because he's the world's greatest CEO, but he has been the force between the two products that drive profitability for Apple, the iPod and iphone and its iconic product, the Mac. He has a combination of vision, design sense, and founder's power is unique in my memory.

Sanjay Basavaraju

Steve Jobs is like a Male actor in a Bollywood flick. The female actors appear in few songs and vanish. The supporting actors get a few minutes of screen time.

The article in Portfolio seems to indicate that if Steve Jobs is no longer associated with Apple, then the company is going to suffer. Yes it is ridiculous. Similar story with Carlos Gohn too. CEOs being the face of their companies is so last decade.

Steve and Carlos are no doubt talented. Jonathan Ive has been credited for his work too. I am surprised to realize after you have mentioned it that I have never read anything about Apple's supply chain management.

Have a great day!

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