Analysis Of Steve Jobs Leadership Style At Apple
Task: Each individual student will research and write a paper with analysis of leadership practices and associated issues within a selected organisation, aimed at synthesizing the learning experience of the unit. The paper will cover the following:
- General overview of the organisation’s activities
- A general overview of the leadership practice within the selected organisation including leadership styles, any leadership challenges identified and leadership development activities in the organisation
- Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the identified leadership practices in the organisation. This should include an analysis that the leadership practice has had on the overall organisational strategy or how the identified leadership practices have affected the performance of the organisation
- Basing on the issues identified and supporting theory, make recommendations for the organisation (focus on how the leadership practices can be optimised for maximum organisational impact).
1. Executive Summary
Apple was initially led under the Steve jobs leadership style. Apple is an American multinational technology company founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wynne. Apple is the world's largest company that manufactures and sells consumer electronics, online services and computer software. Steve jobs leadership style is a type of autocratic leadership to manage the company's wide range of activities. The current discussion includes a discussion on Apple's leadership style analysis and discussing the management practices and concerns of the organization. Surely the style of authoritarian leadership creates a successful process of creating the organization. This style of leadership is becoming less popular and is not currently used in organizations. The management style is advantageous for the business organisation at an early and early stage in the establishment of the institution; therefore the stringent decision-making method has a certain degree of effectiveness.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more related videos
Apple Inc is an American multinational technology company groomed under Steve jobs leadership style. Apple is a leading company globally that manufactures and sells consumer electronics, online services and computer software. Apple’s leadership was primarily led by Steve Jobs from the period 1997 till 2011. Steve Jobs followed the autocratic style of leadership to manage the wide operations of the business (Rast III, Hogg and Giessner, 2013, p 640). The selection of a style of leadership is primarily dependent upon the personal traits of a leader. A leader selects style of leadership appropriate to the organisation at that point in time. Leadership at Apple has led the company to attain great heights in global electronics market (Grint, Jones, Holt and Storey, 2016, p 3). The current scope of discussion includes discussing the leadership style at Apple, hence analysing the leadership practices and issues with the organisation.
3. Analysis of the issue
3.1 Organizational Activities
Apple Computer Inc has been established by Steve Jobs from his vision for making technology simple. Apple’s product includes innovative products, where Steve Job motivated employees to make electronic products simpler (Ghasabeh, Soosay and Reaiche, 2015, p 460). Apple’s primary activities includes innovating new technological advances and coming out with new products that can help them lead in the marketplace. Apple is a multinational company with its headquarters at California in Cupertino. It is one of the largest technological companies in the world. The company has several hardware products that are distinct from rest of its competitors in the world. It has several software products in the market globally as well. It offers several services globally which includes Apple Music, Apple Pay (cash), and App Store and so on. The key organisational activities of the organisation are segregated into operations, manufacturing, sales, services, logistics and research and development. The company and its leadership are tremendously focused on the research and development functionality of the company. The research division is responsible for innovating new products and services, and framing the strategic direction for the company. The company’s leader is in direct interaction with the research and development team to shape the company’s future direction (Toegel and Barsoux, 2012, p 57). Steve Job’s primary involvement was with the R&D team to collaborate their efforts towards the company’s success.
3.2 Leadership practices
The success of Steve jobs leadership style at Apple helped it out of bankruptcy in the year 1997. He helped build the world’s most valuable company by transforming seven industries such as animated movies, personal computing, phones, music, retail stores, tablet computing and digital publishing (Bel, 2010, p 50). Steve Job’s is said to have belonged in the pantheon of America’s great innovators. He brought about focus, simplification, by taking responsibility till end while leapfrogging; he always considered products before profits and motivated employees not to be slave to focus group, he believed in bending reality to push for perfection. Critics of Steve jobs leadership style signifies that focus were one of the most crucial elements of his way of working. He worked in a relentless manner without any forms of distractions (Sharma and Grant, 2011, p 18). He admired simplicity while working and avoided all sorts of complications. His relentless mechanism and focus to strive for the company was aimed at attaining something impossible for the company. His motivation was focused on perfection ignoring the concept of profits.
Steve jobs leadership style was autocratic, which includes telling subordinates what to do.
In this style of leadership, subordinates are instructed to what they need to do and they are not engaged in decision making (Grint, Jones, Holt and Storey, 2016, p 3). During the Steve jobs leadership style, an autocratic style of leadership was followed which was extremely transactional in nature with extreme powers over members of the team. Not much input was sought from members of the team even if it included interest of the organisation. This leadership style and his way of working is admired by some but disliked by many. The main challenge of Steve jobs leadership style was employee’s grievances, who worked under him (Hitt, Haynes and Serpa, 2010, p 440). Many employees disliked the fact that they could not contribute in the decision making for the company even it meant benefit for the company.
Autocratic leaders often say what to do and expect it. The autocratic leader does not include employees as a part of the decision-making process and employees has little autonomy. Authoritarian leadership is an extreme form of corporate governance in which managers have absolute power over their employees or teams. Employees and team members have little chance of making recommendations, even if they are in the best interests of the team or organization.
Many people resent being treated in this manner, leading to absenteeism and high turnover of staffs. Employees at Apple were highly skilled and had high levels of professional expertise, this style of leadership often lead to ineffectiveness within the company. Though this style of leadership is considered to be highly effective amongst unskilled employees but not amongst employees such as Apple’s. This style of leadership is more traditional in nature and relies more upon punishment for influencing employees (Allio, 2013, p 5). Job was a leader in an entrepreneurial type of organisation with small business, which was initially the case for Apple, hence in such cases autocratic style of leadership was more appropriate.
3.3 What are the strengths and weaknesses of Steve jobs leadership style?
Steve jobs leadership style have been often criticized by many with his implementation of autocratic style of leadership after his appointment as CEO. In September 1997, Steve Jobs was appointed interim CEO by Apple's management board. Steve Jobs is often very authoritarian, his decisions are made with little consultation, and his decisions are quicker, so he can react quickly to changes in the business environment. His behavior and authoritarian style during the meetings were described as rude and annoying. Because he strives for perfection, he has a compelling presence that makes some people afraid of him.
The strengths of Steve jobs leadership style is that this style of driving often puts a lot of pressure on colleagues, so the working environment is not an interesting place (Kaiser, McGinnis and Overfield, 2012, p 119). But, like all leading styles, there is a time and situation in which the style is appropriate. Effective for X-theory employees as it allows managers to control decisions and in time, it becomes inefficient. Y-theory employees cannot react. It has no training for future leaders. At work, where conditions require only immediate action, authoritarian leadership can be the best thing to adopt. Surprisingly, most employees have already worked for an authoritarian leader, so there is not much effort to adapt to this style. In short, authoritarian leadership is very effective but is very stressful when there is too much pressure to stay away from your followers or colleagues (Lunenburg, 2012, p 7). Steve Jobs, for example, prefers authoritarian style to make faster decisions while controlling them. His deadlines often seem hard to meet, but he has made progress in all areas and areas of improving his work.
Some weaknesses of authoritarian leaders are the style of communication of authoritarian leaders is often described as a one-way street. The feedback received from these managers is usually not planned (Owens, Wallace and Waldman, 2015, p 1203). Decision-making is generally one-sided and the goal is achieved through human resource management.
Post Steve Job’s, Tim Cook took over leadership of Apple. The recommendation for the current organisation is Cook’s style of leadership which has optimized the performance of the organisation. Based on Steve jobs leadership style, Cook’s style was highly transformational in nature and brought about changes in the organisation. Cook’s style of leadership is categorised as democratic in nature, though some believe that he has acquired some of the legendary practices of Job’s blending it into unique leadership mantra. Cook’s style of leadership is categorised to be that of a bold visionary with charismatic and thoughtful attitude. His focus is not on creating new but rather focusing on existing products by fostering of existing relationship with employees and business. Cook is known as being quiet and having capability to build consensus amongst senior members of the team. Though various critics point out to his lack of ambition and vigor. This has deterred Apple from entering into new product categories and having low business margins as compared to its competitors. Thus few recommendations for the organisation for optimizing leadership practices include;
- Bringing about greater recognition for employees. Employees need to be able to contribute more into strategic decisions of the company such that they feel they are a part of the company.
- Employees need to be awarded for their efforts and recognition constitutes an integral aspect of employee’s relationship with the company.
- Employees need to be granted greater autonomy in their way of functioning. As Apple’s employees include highly skilled professionals, greater autonomy could assist in assimilating more innovations.
Steve jobs leadership style is autocratic that makes certain the processes to compel organisation into success. This style of leadership is gradually becoming less popular and is not currently applied across organisations. The leadership way is beneficial in entrepreneurial organizations during their formative and early years, which makes certain effective style of decision making. In larger organizations, employees hold significant power and there is a formalized culture in decision making. Such democracy maintains motivation amongst employees which ensures productivity within organisations. Apple’s leadership changed gradually after Steve Job, when Tim Cook took over. Tim Cook has taken over successfully becoming an inspirational leader. Tim Cook was a democratic leader which enabled building consensus amongst employees, especially senior management for taking strategic decisions in business.
Allio, R.J., 2013. Steve jobs leadership style Leaders and leadership–many theories, but what advice is reliable?. Strategy & Leadership, pp 10-15.
Bel, R., 2010. Leadership and innovation: Learning from the best. Global business and organizational excellence, 29(2), pp.47-60.
Ghasabeh, M.S., Soosay, C. and Reaiche, C., 2015. The emerging role of transformational leadership. The Journal of Developing Areas, 49(6), pp.459-467.
Grint, K., Jones, O.S., Holt, C. and Storey, J., 2016. What is leadership. The Routledge companion to leadership, p.3.
Grint, K., Jones, O.S., Holt, C. and Storey, J., 2016. What is leadership. The Routledge companion to leadership, p.3.
Hitt, M.A., Haynes, K.T. and Serpa, R., 2010. Steve jobs leadership style Strategic leadership for the 21st century. Business Horizons, 53, pp.437-444.
Isaacson, W., 2012. The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs. Steve jobs leadership style Harvard business review, 90(4), pp.92-102.
Kaiser, R.B., McGinnis, J.L. and Overfield, D.V., 2012. The how and the what of leadership. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64(2), p.119.
Lunenburg, F.C., 2012. Power and leadership: an influence process. International journal of management, business, and administration, 15(1), pp.1-9.
Owens, B.P., Wallace, A.S. and Waldman, D.A., 2015. Leader narcissism and follower outcomes: The counterbalancing effect of leader humility. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(4), p.1203.
Rast III, D.E., Hogg, M.A. and Giessner, S.R., 2013. Self-uncertainty and support for autocratic leadership. Self and Identity, 12(6), pp.635-649.
Sharma, A. and Grant, D., 2011. Narrative, drama and charismatic leadership: The case of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Leadership, 7(1), pp.3-26.
Toegel, G. and Barsoux, J.L., 2012. How to become a better leader. Steve jobs leadership style MIT Sloan Management Review, 53(3), pp.51-60.