How Apple’s Intros Contributed to Jobs’ Reputation

All eyes are on Apple as they launch their first new product without Steve Jobs at the helm. Apple’s “ta da” approach to introducing new products has been an essential ingredient in creating Mr. Jobs’ reputation. Now a new study provides proof supporting this contention.

“Managerial Mystique: Magical Thinking in the Judgments of Managers’ Vision, Charisma, and Magnetism,” (whew!) by Maia Young, Michael W. Morris and Vicki M. Scherwin showed that when people were unaware of how success was achieved they viewed the leader as more charismatic and visionary.

It’s an interesting finding with practical implications. After all, if others are unaware of how you do your job, they’ll have a hard time stepping in when you’re unavailable. Now Tim Cook is stepping into Jobs’ role and by all accounts he has been well prepared. His reputation is that of a transparent, operational leader–almost the polar opposite of Jobs’ mystique. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s rituals, like product introductions, evolve—or not—to reflect their new leader.

Managing impressions of a company is one thing, but obscuring what it takes to get the job done contributes to corporate suffering. Not only is it difficult for others to fully appreciate your contribution, it leads to misconceptions about what being in management is all about. When junior people get promoted, they’re often unprepared for what their new job entails since what was most apparent to them is the perqs of the position. This is not to say that you should spend lots of time discussing the details of your job—there is a fine balance between revealing too much and too little—but it will serve you and your company well to make sure others know the scale and scope of what you deal with regularly.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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