Part savvy businessman, part artist, Steve Jobs is an excellent example of the Pisces attributes in a leadership role. An iconic figure, we’ll look at his leadership style in our evolving study of the zodiac signs for leadership.
In this series, as we progress through each month’s zodiac sign, we’re exploring the essential leadership qualities for that sign. We’re doing this by looking at real life examples of established leaders whose birthdays fall into each particular sign. We’re testing the principles of textbook astrology and adding a few guidelines of our own as we discover them. The purpose of the project is to recognize the leadership qualities we naturally possess and to recognize those qualities in other leaders.
This month we’re exploring Pisces. If you missed the earlier entries on Pisces Leadership, view them here: Pisces Leadership – Dipping our Toes in the Water; Pisces Leadership – George Washington. These posts outline the essential qualities of Pisces and what we’ve learned so far. And don’t miss the comments. Readers have made astute observations of the Pisces style at work.
There are so many signs and signals of Pisces in Steve Jobs’ career, it’s hard to narrow them down to just a few. We’ll focus on these:
- Pisces, the artisan
- Pisces, the synthesizer
- Pisces, the collaborator
- Pisces, from complexity to simplicity
Note: Many of the points in this piece I have gleaned from the excellent Inside Steve’s Brain, by Leander Kahney. Other sources will be noted at the end.
Pisces, the artisan
Pisces has a reputation as the dreamer, the artist, someone who hears distant chimes from the ethereal world. Jobs, born “in San Francisco, California, USA, planet Earth, February 24, 1955” (1) puts his artistic qualities to work with an obsessive love for design, keen attention to advertising, and an unparalleled focus on the customer experience. Yet obviously, his deep artistic nature is balanced by his ability to capitalize on his creative inspiration.
He brings his artistic touch to each product Apple produces. He is minutely involved in every aspect of the product, paying attention to all of the details such as the color, the feel, and the function. (2)
And yet it is not the product which is the primary focus, it is the user’s experience of the product. Jobs is uncannily perceptive about the needs of the customer. He doesn’t sell a product; he sells a fantasy lifestyle, augmented by a cool technological gadget. He even involves himself with the design of the packaging materials, believing that the feeling a customer has as he opens the box to set up the new machine is a vital part of the overall experience.
The Piscean love for theater and drama show up in Jobs product introductions: savvy, much awaited theatrical events, full of fever, anticipation, and Jobs’ stage presence which easily eclipses any of his competitors’ product introductions.
Pisces, the Synthesizer
Along with the other mutable signs, Pisces has the reputation for being scattered and far-flung, lacking focus, accountability, and direction. Jobs’ leadership style demonstrates the advantages which come from this variety of experience.
“Creativity is just connecting things,” Jobs told Wired magazine. “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. . . . Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” (3)
Like the Pisces symbol of two fish forever connected, Jobs thinks technological creativity and artistic creativity are two sides of the same coin. When asked by Time magazine about the difference between art and technology, Jobs said, “I’ve never believed that they’re separate. Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist and a great scientist. Michelangelo knew a tremendous amount about how to cut stone at the quarry. The finest dozen computer scientists I know are all musicians.” (4)
Pisces the Collaborator
Jobs’ business processes are highly collaborative. At Pixar, which Jobs bought from George Lucas in 1986 and served as CEO until 2006 when it was sold to Disney, there are no cubicles or offices. The studio is a large open space with communal design areas. Adverse to hierarchies, if a script isn’t working, the whole team works together to fix it. In fact, the Latin inscription of the crest of Pixar University says, Alienus Non Diutius, Alone No Longer. Could there be a better statement to reflect the unity awareness so common with Pisces?
One of Jobs’ most outstanding traits as a leader is his ability to pick the best people to work with him. The dean of Pixar University says, “[With Jobs leadership] we’ve made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people.” Jobs has an uncanny ability to recognize who are the primary contributors in an organization, no matter what their place is on the hierarchical ladder.
His legendary charisma has allowed him to collaborate with Disney, the record labels, and AT&T to push inventive solutions out to the public domain. John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple Computer, says Jobs is capable of persuading people to do almost anything. Jobs sounds like Pisces’ ruling planet, Neptune, when people say that he emits a “reality distortion field,” a ring of charisma so strong it bends reality for anyone under its influence.
Pisces, from Complexity to Simplicity
The interests and abilities of a Pisces spread far and wide but in the best case scenario Pisceans have the gift of recognizing the simplicity which undergirds the apparent complexity in the world. They can often see right into the heart of a matter. Jobs begins each new product exploration with many, many brainstorming sessions, gathering reams of ideas and inspiration. Then the winnowing process begins, basically reaching a more and more simplified state as an idea evolves. He pares the products down to the essential so they are as simple and easy to use as possible. They are designed to please the customer rather than to impress with technology, bells, or whistles.
Jobs is not an engineer or a programmer himself, nor does he have a business degree or any college degree. His talent is to truly understand and think like an average customer. He guides the company to create products which are instantly usable by anyone, which he achieves by meticulous attention to design.
When Jobs was a child he would take complex pieces of machinery, like televisions, and break them down into their simplest components. He says, “These things were not mysteries anymore. It became much more clear that they were the results of human creation, not these magical things.” (1) Jobs has the knack for turning mysteries and magic into beautiful, simple, and overwhelmingly popular products.
What do you see?
As I said, this is a brief overview of the Piscean qualities Steve Jobs brings to the business world. I think he’s an excellent example to anyone who thinks that the Pisces emotional and spiritual nature precludes business accomplishment. Like each sign, authentic leadership seems to spring from adhering to the essence of the Sun sign: to imbibe the qualities more and more rather than reach for those which are more natural to other signs.
Have you seen these qualities in Pisces leaders around your workplace? If you’re a Pisces, do you identify with these traits of Steve Jobs? Share your experiences and comments with all of us in the comments section. You’ll help us gather a complete profile of the Pisces style of leadership.
To see the other posts in this series, see:
(1)Smithsonian Institution Oral and Video Histories: “Steve Jobs,” by David Morrow.
(2) Inside Steve’s Brain, by Leander Kahney.
(3) “The Wired Interview: Steve Jobs,” by Gary Wolf, Wired Magazine.
(4) “Steve Jobs at 44,” by Michael Krantz, Time Magazine.
For an Intro to Sun Signs and Leadership see this link to my other blog!
To get an overview of the year, check out these posts:
Have you seen my new blog? Discussing all things astrological, for anyone interested in real-life astrology, check out Ellen Longo’s Astrology Blog.
Do you have a question for Ellen? See the “Work with Ellen” tab at the top of this site for my Straight to the Point Response service.
For an overview of the month, see the Neptune