Leadership has been defined as the course of social influence, where one person has the capacity to solicit the support and aid of others in the completion of a common task. Bass defines leadership as an act of paving a way for individuals to create something unique (Bass & Bass 2008). Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, had million of followers all over the world for his exemplary leadership qualities. Described as a visionary leader and an innovative genius, he brought to existence products that completely revolutionized people’s lives. These included the Iphone, the Ipad, the Imac and the Imac, not forgetting the Itunes. Academics, business persons, and management consultants exalt Steve Jobs as a great and influential leader (Tribbett et al. 2004). Jobs to greater degree deviated from normal leadership styles exhibiting a totally unique style never witnessed in the modern times (Sellers 1996). However, the question that begs for an answer is what makes up good leadership?
To be succinct, Steve Jobs was a complicated man who was jam-packed with contradictions. Even though he was a Zen Buddhist, which means he was supposed to be anti-materialistic, Jobs brought to existence a company that promotes a technically materialistic life. In an era where leadership lucidity is promoted as an integral part of a healthy democratic structure, Steve Jobs inculcated a culture of surveillance and secrecy in working premise, complete with cameras to keep an eye on the engineers and a strict internal communication system.
Comparison of Steve Jobs’ Leadership Style and Qualities with Available Leadership Theories
This theory tries to exemplify the kinds of personality tendencies and behavior that yield effective leadership. Thomas (1994) is regarded as one of the pioneers of this theory. In The Heroes and Heroic Stories he identifies physical features, skills, and talents that are linked with great men who arose to power (Brooks 2012). Proponents of this theory generally come up with a litany of leadership traits, presuming that particular qualities will have a propensity to effective leadership. These qualities include: drive, which encompasses ambition, initiative, motivation and achievement; honesty; knowledge of business; confidence, which encompass emotional stability; leadership motivation, which is described as the desire to lead without the intent of yielding power; cognitive prowess; energy; integrity; creativity; self confidence; flexibility, and tenacity (Kirkpatrick & Locke 1991). A combination of these qualities is thought to create a good leader in any context. An individual lacking these traits is perceived to be a weak leader.
This theory is described as the alternative of the trait theory (Gill 2012). Social scientists argue that history encompasses more than the intervention of great men as described by the trait theory. They argue that it is not the person that produces time, but the other way round. The situational theory presumes that different situations and occasions dictate for different qualities and characteristics. According to the situational theory, the style of leadership applied should match the characteristic of the follower (Kouzes & Posner 2007). It, therefore, follows that a leader cannot just instill traits that he thinks are good, but must consider what the followers think, their qualities and strengths in order to bring the best out of them. Leadership in this respect becomes a derivative of the qualities of the follower besides those of a leader (Nohria & Khurana 2010). On the contrary, Jobs seemed to manage the company alone. He is reported to have admitted that over 100 individuals in the company directly report to him.
Jobs’ engagement level cannot be termed as participatory system (Katzenbach 2012). In a democratic leadership, the leader would be willing to listen to the ideas and opinions of the followers. To great extent, this was not Jobs style. He preferred telling people what to do and how to do it. He was termed as impatient and sometimes described as being outright rude. That behavior definitely did set a stage for people to want to contribute of air their opinions. Participatory leadership promotes teamwork, while autocratic leadership strives to dominate others. Jobs humility levels were overly low, often bringing his individuality at a clash with the prerequisites of a democratic style (Isaacson 2012).
The behavior theory is based on the style of leadership that one applies. In this case, leadership styles are categorized into three distinct models: democratic, totalitarian, and laissez-faire (Gardener 2007). The amount of power that a leader yields and the level of influence will determine the category among the three in which it will fall. A totalitarian leader will give little power to the follower. Here, the leader becomes the key determiner of activities of the follower. This style of leadership encompasses making decisions without consideration of followers’ ideas or opinions. The set rule and motives must be achieved following the direction of the leader whether he is right or wrong. Democratic leadership, on the other hand, wield less power as followers are given an opportunity to air their ideas before a decision is made (Winkler 2009). Their input may or may not be incorporated depending on the extent to which a leader is ready to compromise. In some situations followers are given autonomy to carry on with their duties and work but are encouraged to have interest in company’s success at heart. Laissez-faire style of leadership gives total freedom to followers to perform duties as they deem fit without interference of the management. This style of leadership is rather theoretical than real as it assumes the leader has no significant influence on the followers (Winkler 2009).
Democracy was a word that never existed in Jobs dictionary. His structure was rigid and highly centralized. It was his vision, which made the company move at his pace together with his team, who made products that he wanted. It was also his totalitarian leadership that made Apple what it is today. Jobs was a typical example of an authoritarian leader, who dominated his company and his employees. Just like a dictatorial government, Jobs was rarely concerned about the will and needs of his followers. He led chiefly through force. His employees had to either shape up or ship out. His leadership style was totally different from the general trend in the society (DuBrin 2010).
Transformational theory of leadership describes leadership as the process through which a person creates a connection with others and engages them to build a functional framework, where the goal of the company can be attained (Dubrin 2010; Gill 2012). This theory is pegged on the ability of a leader to motivate his followers. The theory further states that leaders with certain characteristics such as sociability, confidence, and with well set values are likely to motivate their followers. A transformational leader is a leader who strives to set his followers’ minds on positivity and change. It is a leader who is keen to observe current status of employees and bring the best out of them. The main goal of the leader is to transform the followers so that they can feel motivated to perform their duties (Chemers 2002). The leader seeks to understand the needs of the followers in a bid to help them reach their full potential.
This theory describes how a leader can develop, employ, and execute crucial changes in a firm. Jobs could be described as a transformational leader, saving Apple when it was on its knees and heading to collapse, and bringing Pixar to success. Jobs possessed all traits to be considered a transformational leader. He led by example. He was a visionary person. Nonetheless he was deficient of humane characteristics that transformational leader has to have. These characteristics are regarded as the prerequisite for a transformational leader and encompass creating trust, emotional stability, and personal encouragement. Jobs was lacking all these characteristics. In fact, Apple is known for its secrecy policy.
Most legendary leaders leave legacies that become prominent and clearer with the passage of time, but Jobs’ leadership can be evaluated with clarity at the moment. His leadership capabilities comply with the heroic theory, which states that great leaders will make decisions that shape the destiny of the whole world (Hughes & Curphy 2006). Jobs was a driven and willful leader, and the nature and uniqueness of products his company made and commercialize revolutionized the lives of many people and the path of many industries such as music, computing, mobile telephony, and publishing.
Steve Jobs Leadership Style and Qualities
Steve Jobs’ achievements were immense long before his demise. Apple Inc is considered as the most valuable company across the globe. Many leaders would wish to emulate this genius and his market achievement. He practiced a unique leadership style described as dynamic and sometimes even controversial (Chaudhuri 2012). His achievements are closely linked to his innovations and approach to leadership. Steve Jobs’ impulsive leadership was both captivating and bewildering. For instance, Jobs had a picky commitment construct, he fell in and out of favor with individuals rather too easily at professional and personal level. In his relentless quest for best talents, Jobs was able to create a very skilled group. In the same vein, he also missed the potential input of many individuals who never measured up to the standards he wanted. Many of those dropped along the way remained with a grudging respect for his impact on their lives and the positive qualities he inculcated in them.
Focus was an integral part of Steve Jobs’ personality (Henson 2011). He uncompromisingly eliminated all unnecessary baggage that he felt would weigh the company down and focused only on few specific areas, which he felt were important. Family members and friends were frustrated when they tried to shift his focus to issues (medical diagnosis and legal problems) that they felt were important to Jobs but which he ignored as trivial. Near the brink of his life, Steve Jobs was visited by Page with whom they cofounded Google. Even though their companies were in dispute, Jobs was still ready to give advice to Page. He talked to Page on the importance of focus, channeling all their efforts behind what he considered important, and filtering out distracters. He urged Page to drop products that were adequate in the eyes of everyone, but which were not great: “Focus on five products and drop the rest, do not turn Google to Microsoft” was what he said to Page. Page followed Job’s advice and in 2012 he ordered his employees to focus on few main concerns, such as Google+ and Android, to make them excellent as Steve Jobs would have done it.
As it was mentioned earlier, Jobs was a Zen Buddhist. He strongly believed in the power of sublime minimalism, which shaped his perception of himself as an artist. It has consequently made him position Apple as a business focused on both humanity and technology. His aim was to create products with simple interface and attractive design that would be desired by consumers of all ages (Bono & Ilies 2006). He was a witness of how businesses like Microsoft came to be the leaders of the software market by creating and licensing their operating system to be used on numerous 3rd party platforms. Jobs, however, was not an admirer of that strategy. “He wanted end-to-end control over the user experience which he achieved by limiting his software to run on Apple products and retaining full control over user experience both in terms of hardware and software” (Williams 2012). Goldsmith writes about Jobs:
Jobs not only believed in his vision but truly lived it through his actions: the way he build his team at Apple, the way he chose his business partners, the way he advertised his company…. heck, even the way he dressed and conducted himself at business meetings. There was no going half way. The way Jobs stood by his vision inspired his employees and commanded great respect from his business partners and even his competitors. We need more leaders able to develop a clear vision and stand by it the way Jobs did. Once Jobs had his vision he was able to filter out distractions to make the path to success perfectly clear. When he took over Apple in 1997 and the company was on the brink of financial disaster, he knew to eliminate all but a handful of key products & projects that matched his vision. That freed up resources and funds for Apple to survive and turn its finances around. (2003)
Steve Jobs was a good example of how totalitarian style of leadership combined with deeper focus, vision, and innovation can transform a company from grass to grace. He was once tangled in a power struggle with the top management of Apple, who considered him as being egocentric and a control freak. Steve proved them wrong with time as he transformed Apple into one of the most valuable companies in the world. He employed and fired at will to see that he only remained with the best of the best, and that his employees created products well crafted and which consumers would want to purchase in the dynamic digital industry (Lane 2004). Conversely, Jobs otherwise damaging behavior catapulted his company on the helm though, in many ways it also undermined its performance, depending on how and where it was used. They also aided in structuring and creating a unique culture that he pursued. In contrast to most leaders, Jobs instinctively knew all too well the power of culture and its ability to sustain the competitive edge in the market. His perpetual sight pursued creating a company that would create products not only for the current generation but for future ones as well.
In the view of classical textbooks, Steve Jobs would not be termed as an effective leader. He was far from what scholars and academicians would describe as a good leader (Timpe 1987). Nonetheless, his vision, charisma, passion for work, and self-confidence greatly outweighed the negative attributes of his style. His approach enabled him to make Apple an iconic company and drive his employees through coercion to their full potential. Jobs’ leadership style was intricate. He was a focused individual, brave and committed enough to take a risky move and confident to enlist a group of workers and clients in a persistent chase of his aspirations. Jobs was also described as interpersonally immature even in his senior years, stubborn, hypercritical, intolerant, and totally brutal at times. Though he is termed as the greatest chief executive officer of our time, his leadership style disobeyed all the convention styles. He was a tyrannical and in many occasions too demanding. He was the direct opposite of what was described as a “servant leader”, dogma popularized all too well in the 1990s by many academicians (Avolio et al. 2001).
Comparison of Steve Jobs’ Leadership Style with that of Richard Branson
Richard Branson is acknowledged for his matchless leadership styles and qualities, one who takes risks and deems that the success of his company is founded on people. Branson is a democratic leader. This can be evidenced by the fact that he seeks other people’s opinions and listens to them. He interacts with people from all levels, whether they are his friends, employees, business partners, or strangers and writes down ideas which he considers good and interesting. Branson emphasizes the significance of appreciating employees and making them feel essential. He takes care of his employees and this can be evidenced when, after winning the court case against British Airlines, he was given $500,000, which he divided amongst his employees (Des 2007). It is possible to say that he is a natural born leader, who demonstrates the attributes of leadership as outlined in the trait theory. On the contrary, Jobs was a typical example of a dictatorial leader, who dominated his company and his employees. Just like a dictatorial government, Jobs was rarely concerned about the will and needs of his followers. He led chiefly through force. His leadership style was totally different from the general trend in the society.
Branson is systematic in employing the right employees and retaining them. In case of underperformance, he assigns his employees different assignment where they can perform better. Branson does not believe in firing his employees and he rarely does it. Conversely, Jobs led chiefly through force. His employees had to either shape up or ship out from Apple Inc. He employed and fired at will to make sure that he only remained with the best of the best. He also ensured that his employees created products that were well crafted, which consumers would want to have in quickly changing digital industry. He was regarded as a liaison oriented leader. He was good at bringing into line individuals and offering them encouragement and emotional support. Branson can, therefore, be perceived as a consultative, transformational, participative, and charismatic leader, who makes individuals follow and listen to him. On the contrary, Jobs who was an autocratic leader, had careful eye for thoroughness. He surrounded himself with people of one mind, who followed his lead. Jobs was extremely demanding of his employees, but he was not the paramount delegator. Unlike Branson who has confidence in entrustment, Jobs wanted to be involved in each detail. Jobs humility level was low, often bringing his individuality at a clash with the prerequisites of a democratic style. Branson, on the other hand, hires the best employees, gives them encouragement and freedom to succeed. In fact, he has physically separated himself from the firm (Waldman et al. 2004).
Although Jobs was not the best leader, he was determined, innovative, and passionate. These attributes saw the success of Apple Inc. He found gaps that existed in the market and created products that made real difference to individuals’ lives (Bowerman & Wart 2011). This can only be achieved through passion. Contemporary leaders need to do unique things in order to leave a mark and be in line with the changes taking place in the society. Branson admired entrepreneurial skills of Jobs, even though they had different leadership styles. Nevertheless, both entrepreneurs were passionate about making drastic advancements. Jobs was determined in his quest to design computers that could be used by individuals to change their everyday lives, whilst Branson is single-minded with staff engagement, customer service, and a sense of enjoyment in his company. Branson once claimed that he and Jobs believed in and enjoyed their work. They were committed, inspired, and persistent, which meant that they loved their work. This drove them to make products that they were proud of, extending the same to employees and customers (Branson 2011).
Comparison of Steve Jobs’ Leadership Style with that of Donald Trump
Donald Trump is acknowledged for his unconventional and eccentricity business activities. He demonstrates an unconventional leadership style that is characterized by different features. For instance, the desire for power can be revealed by the real estate he owns. His name is written in every golf course, building, and casino he has. Although he is powerful and eccentric, he makes good business decisions. Besides, he is a risk taker, who finds a gap in every opportunity he gets. Trump is participative leader. This can be evidenced from the fact that he acts like a facilitator instead of a dictator. He facilitates ideas and information-sharing amongst his employees with the aim of achieving results. Even though he is responsible for making final decisions, he considers the ideas and views of his people, contrary to Jobs who made decisions by himself making his employees to design the products he wanted (Redmond & Crisafulli 2010).
Nevertheless, Trump is an autocratic leader (Redmond & Crisafulli 2010). Even though he values his employees and their input, his approach is deemed to be ‘bossy’ and rough. His autocratic leadership style allows him to work well in stressful or emergency situations. It is apparent that both Trump and Jobs are autocratic leaders. Jobs was a typical example of a dictatorial leader, who dominated his company and his employees. Just like a dictatorial government, Jobs was rarely concerned about the will and needs of his followers. He led chiefly through force.
Warren Buffet’s Leadership Attributes Compared to those of Jobs
Buffet is known as a true leader, who has the capacity of making a difference in the globe. His leadership style and attributes are linked to change, which fits the transforming world. Buffet has shown the capability to map read in the asymmetrical waters of transformation (Kalibre 2006). He is a leader who learns from his mistakes and creates something good out of it. Besides, he is allowed to share leadership roles at the organizational level. In the business world, various titles linked to leadership functions are often used, and Buffet has those titles, which makes him an efficient leader in different positions. He is an organizer, budgeter, and a controller. These attributes are required to be an excellent business leader (Conger & Kanungo 1998). Integrity was the most significant attribute for Buffet. Communication is believed to be key in leadership. Buffet is an effective communicator, a factor that makes him position himself well at the correct place and at the proper time. He is knowledgeable, understanding, and a good listener who has the capability to express his opinion in a persuasive way.
In addition, Buffet has a constant approach of examining potential investment options, market trends as well as the capability to put management resources of proper quality in the right place. Innovation is the key to investment and Buffet is a creative innovator (Buffett & Clark 2010). In the contemporary world of international investment, investors need innovative thinkers. Innovative investors translate future trends, financials, perception, and awareness and constantly alleviate risks. Being an innovative investor, Buffet reviews user requirements, proper money usage, product features, specialized organizational structures as well as risk management (Kore 2006). In a nutshell, Buffet can be said to be self-empowered. He possesses the attributes of an excellent leader and above all he is loyal, dedicated, plans a strategy, and sets goals to be achieved. Comparing Buffet’s and Jobs’ leadership attributes, it is true to say that the two leaders are similar in terms of their leadership traits. However, such attributes as good communication and loyalty cannot be associated with Jobs.
Jamie Dimon’s Leadership Attributes Compared to those of Jobs
Jamie Dimon can be said to possess the attribute of integrity. This can be evidenced by the fact that he holds himself responsible after making mistakes. Unlike other leaders, Dimon acknowledges his mistakes and enumerates them (Crisafulli 2009). Integrity is key in the banking industry, and Dimon acknowledges this. Just like Steve Jobs, Dimon is a passionate leader, who strives to achieve what is good for the company and never gives up. Dimon’s passion is evidenced in the yearly reports he writes to shareholders. However, unlike other corporate leaders of many companies whose reports are normally filler, comprising of standard business boiler plate, Dimon’s reports are all-inclusive, they scrutinize and evaluate each part of company’s annual business outcomes in understandable language (McDonald 2009). His passion to communicate with shareholders indicates that he is not obliged to perform his role, rather it is a pleasing quest to which he dedicates himself fully.
Dimon is an intelligent and knowledgeable leader. During his leadership at JPMorgan, the bank did not record any loss even during the financial crisis. His disciplined and conventional leadership approach steered JPMorgan away from the impact of mortgage meltdown (McDonald 2009). He has demonstrated that he can decisively and quickly act in case an opportunity comes up. This is evidenced by the rapid acquirement of Bear Stearns right prior to the 2008 imploding of the investment bank. Dimon is respected by leaders and businessmen all over the globe due to his accomplishments. Like Dimon, Jobs also earned respect from executives all over the world due to various products he brought into the market.
In a company, disciplined leadership influences people, culture, and procedures in order to improve performance. Performance does not only mean profitability, but also includes risk alleviation, responsible and ethical business principles, which the staff has to uphold. With regard to this, Dimon is a disciplined leader, who values and is concerned about his employees, unlike Jobs, who hired like-minded people to follow his lead (Crisafulli 2009).
Attributes of Contemporary Leaders Compared to Steve Jobs
The present arena of technical and fundamental modifications, complicated by market globalization, rapid technological growth, and modifying hierarchical organizational structures pose a major challenge for contemporary leaders (Kouzes & Posner 2007). Presently, businesses have advanced their methods of operation in order to overcome these challenges. This means that contemporary leaders need to develop novel leadership skills and attributes required from a leader (Vecchiotti 2011). Some of the attributes of contemporary leaders include authentic trust. This allows them to make proper decisions for the benefit of the company. This attribute is also applicable in case of uncertainty or risk.
Current leaders are also embracing change. Currently, industries and companies that are not willing to embrace change are facing major challenges. Contemporary leaders are absolutely giddy regarding the speed of transformation that is taking place in the society (Phillips 1999). Moreover, they act congruent. Leaders are aware of the value and the outcomes they produce. Practicing abundance is also evident among today’s leaders in addition to respect, being loyal, being good communicators and innovative thinkers (DuBrin 2012). Qualities of contemporary leaders help them maintain their connection with the followers as well as keep them ahead (Carmazzi 2005). They are conceptual thinkers, patient and humble, critical evaluators, articulate and consistent with their vision, humorous, flexible, determined, emotionally mature, respectful of and collaborative with others (Khurana 2002). These attributes assist them to lead their followers.
When some individuals require an improvement in their performance, current leaders understand their position and patiently teach them things that are significant for success. All these match the attributes of a successful business leader. Compared to contemporary leaders, Jobs possessed some qualities that could not be deemed efficient. For instance, he was believed to be interpersonally immature even in his senior years, stubborn, hypercritical, intolerant, and totally brutal at times. To be successful as a business leader, one needs to have the attributes of a leader in addition to being a creative, innovative, and always try to identify opportunities existing in the market.
From this assessment, it is true to say that Steve Jobs would not be termed as an effective leader. He was far from what scholars and academicians would describe as a good leader. Nonetheless his vision, charisma, passion for work, and self-confidence greatly outweighed his negative characteristics. His approach made Apple an iconic company and drove his employees through coercion to their full potential. Jobs leadership style was intricate. He was a focused individual, brave and committed enough to take a risky move and confident enough to enlist a group of workers and clients in a persistent chase of his aspirations. At the same time, Jobs was also described as interpersonally immature even in his senior years, stubborn, hypercritical, intolerant, and totally brutal at times. Though he is termed as the greatest chief executive officer of our times, his leadership style deviated from all convention styles. He was a tyrannical and in many occasions too demanding. He was the direct opposite of what was described as a “servant leader”, dogma popularized all too well in the 1990s by many academicians. These negative attributes differentiated Jobs from other leaders of the decade and also from the contemporary leaders, who seem to posses positive leadership styles and qualities. The question, however, is how did Jobs manage to make Apple Inc. the company it is today with all these negative traits reflected in leadership style?
Jobs otherwise damaging behavior catapulted his company on the helm though. In many ways it also undermined its performance, depending on how and where it was used. They also aided in structuring and creating a unique culture that he pursued. In contrast with most leaders, Jobs instinctively knew all too well the power of culture and its prowess to sustaining the competitive edge in the market. His perpetual sight pursued creating a company that would create products not only for the current generation but for future one too. Although Jobs was not the best leader, he was determined, innovative, and passionate. These attributes saw the success of Apple Inc. He found gaps that existed in the market and created products that made real difference to individuals’ lives. Contemporary leaders need to do unique things in order to leave a mark and be in line with the changes taking place in the society. Jobs was determined in his quest to design products to be employed by individuals to change their everyday lives.