Decoding the Image Series – Steve Jobs
In some of my workshops, I ask participants to share their most admired leader. One name to always make it to the list is Steve Jobs. Jobs is known for his innovation, resilience, and of course leadership abilities.
One striking element was his choice of attire. Unlike other corporate executives who wore business suits and ties, he had a signature look the black turtleneck, blue denim and sneakers.
Let us look at the various aspects of why he chose to wear this every single day.
- Decision Fatigue
As a leader who has to make hundreds of decisions a day, Jobs decided not to spend time every morning deciding what to wear. Various studies have shown that our minds get exhausted making decisions like what to wear, what to eat, when to workout etc., which might take away our ability to get real things done.
- Uniforms at Apple
On a trip to Japan, Jobs visited the Sony office. He noticed that all the employees were in uniforms. As per Sony’s CEO Akio Monita, it helped in employee bonding. Jobs thought it would be a great idea to introduce uniforms at Apple to improve the bonding amongst the team. But unfortunately, the Apple team was not impressed with the idea.
- Creating his signature look
Even though the Apple employees refused to accept a uniform, the idea stayed with Jobs to create his own Signature Look. Japanese fashion icon, Issey Miyake worked with Jobs to create this look. They finally zeroed down on the black turtleneck t-shirt. Miyake sent 100s of t-shirts to Jobs.
- Authenticity in the signature look
Authenticity means being who you truly are. The way you dress should make you feel comfortable and confident. Jobs choice of attire definitely helped him feel both.
- Appropriateness in the signature look
Appropriateness is portraying an image that is acceptable as per the situation, occasion, people you are meeting. The way you dress should help you foster a connection with people and yet make a statement. Finding the balance between Authenticity and Appropriateness is the key.
The dress code followed at Apple is casual. This helps foster an innovative and creative work environment. Hence, Jobs would have looked extremely out of place and would not be able to connect with his teams if he was in Business Suits and Ties all the time.
Let us analyze his signature look to understand appropriateness