Leadership

Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos' mentor used a simple test to figure out who is a true leader

Spain's acting Prime Minister and People's Party (PP) leader Mariano Rajoy speaks during a news conference at his party headquarters a day after a general election in Madrid, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Bill Campbell explains that in order to be an effective leader, you need to recognise your team. Image: REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Aine Cain
Careers Reporter, Business Insider
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Leadership?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Entrepreneurship is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

leadership

You can have the most impressive title in the world and still not be a leader.

According to the late Bill Campbell, who established a reputation as the "coach" of Silicon Valley, only one thing determines whether or not you're a leader: the opinions of those you're supposed to be leading.

A former Columbia University football player and coach, Campbell went on to work with and mentor with some of the biggest names in tech, including Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley poached Campbell, hiring him away from Kodak to work as Apple's VP of marketing.

Sculley shared one of the best pieces of advice Campbell ever gave him: "Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you're a leader, and it's up to you to live up to that."

Campbell himself told Sculley he'd come to that realization about leadership from working with Jobs.

"The reality is that you have to earn leadership from the people that you're working with and who are working for you," Sculley told Business Insider. "The title doesn't mean much unless you can earn their respect as a leader."

Later in his career, Campbell served on Apple's board of directors. He went on to also become CEO of Intuit from 1994 to 1998 and eventually became the chairman of the tech company's board.

Current Intuit CEO Brad Smith said he got the same advice on leadership from Campbell, too. Sculley and Smith both said it was the best career advice they'd ever received, and that it's stuck with them ever since.

"Basically, how you make that happen is if you believe that leadership is not about putting greatness into people, leadership is about recognizing that there's a greatness in everyone and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge," Smith told Business Insider. "That's our definition of leadership. We don't think leadership is the same as people management."

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
LeadershipBusinessJobs and the Future of Work
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Here’s what adventuring can teach you about leadership

James Fell

May 29, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum