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Why We're Rooting For Steve Jobs

Apple Computer says its internal investigation exonerated the computer maker's co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs of willfully backdating stock options. While analysts continue to speculate on whether Jobs is completely out of the woods -- there's still the possibility of an SEC probe into Apple's option practices -- I suspect there's many people, like me, who are pulling for Jobs to survive the scandal. It's not that we're hoping he gets away with any wrongdoing; it's that we want him to be not guilty.

Here's why: Daily media accounts report on some CEO we've never heard of, at a company we've never heard of, involved in the latest corruption investigation. Leaders with names like Bernie, Kobi, and Hank, brought shame on companies called WorldCom, Comverse, and AIG, by overstating earnings, using questionable accounting practices, and manipulating stock options. The constant onslaught of scandals causes employees everywhere to develop stereotypes associating business leaders with dishonesty and deceit. And those force even the most scrupulous leaders to work harder at developing employee trust.

Many leaders are downright exhausted from proving themselves more trustworthy than those obscure scoundrels in the daily news are. To make matters worse, when a well-known and widely admired leader like Steve Jobs stands accused of unsavory business acts, people feel personally let down. As a result, the stereotypes swell and employees start viewing their own leaders with suspicion.

So we don't want Steve Jobs pardoned; we want him acquitted. His innocence will make our jobs as leaders a little easier.
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