Leader case study on Steve Jobs

Question 1


As defined by Mr. Achua; leadership is the influencing process of leaders and followers to achieve organizational objectives through change. He defined effective leader to be someone who have the five elements of leadership as mentioned in the above figure. Mr. Steve Jobs has been a good example of being an effective leader for Apple. The five elements in his personality are discussed as follows;


Influencing is the process of a leader communicating ideas, gaining acceptance of them, and motivating followers to support and implement the ideas through change.

Mr. Jobs has been a perfect example for this element. He has influence not only his employees as well as his customers by bringing innovative products that his customers want. According to the case the people who left Apple says though Jobs hogs the credit but they’ve never done better work.

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This is how influenced his people from him. They were loyal and gave Mr. Jobs great respect.


Effective leaders influence followers to think not only of their own interests but also of the interest of the organization through a shared vision. Mr. Jobs didn’t think about his own interests while working in Apple, the example of him hiring John Scuelly to bring professional management into power in place of himself is a prove, that he wanted his company to grow. It was his vision that made the companies he worked for a success.

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There is no doubt if it is said that change was the most important element that Mr. Steve had for being an effective leader. Apple has been a perfect example of change and it was only possible because of Mr. Jobs. Discussing the company’s “think different” advertising campaign, Isaacson writes, “They debated the grammatical issue: If ‘different’ was supposed to modify the verb ‘think,’ it should be an adverb, as in ‘think differently.’ But Jobs insisted that he wanted ‘different’ to be used as a noun, as in ‘think victory’ or ‘think beauty.’ ” This shows that he always wanted to be different and unique. Bill Gates also said that Jobs did things differently and it’s magical. According to the case; Jobs wanted to bring about change, took innovative risk.[1: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/10/apple-after-steve-jobs.html]


Leadership is about leading people. As per the case Jobs had been a controversial figure in business. People who have worked for Jobs over the years have mixed reactions to his leading people. Some call him temperamental, aggressive, tough, intimidating, and very demanding. He has been known to verbally attack people who make mistakes and are not meeting goals and expectations. Yet, employees who perform up to expectation are well rewarded. Even many who feared him also had great respect for him as he did inspire loyalty, enthusiasm, and high levels of performance through continuous innovation. Even people who left Apple say it’s often brutal and Jobs hogs the credit, but they’ve never done better work. Hence they intend to follow him.


An effective leader needs to share his ideas and listen to others and implement their ideas to be effective. It is due to Mr. Jobs good training that Apple is still working well. When Mr. Job was sick back in 2004 and 2009, Mr. Tim Cook (present CEO of Apple) was given his position and through Mr. Jobs guidance he ran the company. He made his follower the next leader and trained him well for the job. According to the case while working with the design team, he used to take input from the followers into what is designed and how. Mr. Jobs always inspired loyalty, enthusiasm and high levels of performance through continuous innovation from his followers.



Figure 1: Leadership Managerial Roles by Henry Mintzberg

The traits of all managerial roles defined by Mintzberg can been seen in Mr. Jobs being the leader of Apple. But the most important role that he played was being an entrepreneur that comes under decisional role. Following are the roles that he played while leading Apple;


Mr. Jobs performed the figurehead role for Apple when he used to represent the organization. He used to make announcement for the launch of products, interacted with the customers. Signing official documents, entertaining clients or customers as official representatives. He used to give live interviews. He also used to informally talk to people and attend outside meetings as an organizational representative.


Mr. Jobs played the leader role that is of performing the management functions to effectively operate the managers’ organization unit. According to the case he made decision for hiring professional management. He used to do coaching and give instructions to design department specifically. He used to confront people if the performance of employees falls but also used to reward them if they performed well.


Mr. Jobs performed the monitor role when he used to gather information for innovative products, to discover problems and opportunities, and to understand events outside the organizational unit. He was a perfectionist. He used to monitor everything very closely. According to the case he was obsessive CEO who wanted his product to be practically perfect in every way. He was the one who stop the launch of one of Apple right before the launch date to be sure it’s perfect.


Steve also played a disseminator role when he used to work with the design team. When some information needed to be transferred to the employees. When Mr. Cook become active CEO in 2009, Steve used to make decisions and convey them to him to bring it into action.


Mr. Steve was a great spokesperson for Apple. He used to interact with people outside organization through seminars, meetings and interviews. The reason why people know him really well is, he used to speak to the public on behalf of Apple.


Steve Jobs is one of the best entrepreneurs. Through self-assessment he realized that his strengths was in developing new products. He believed the future of Apple depends on the frequent product introduction and transition. His vision for Apple made him a great entrepreneur. Bill Gates also called him to be visionary with intuitive taste. He does thing differently and it was magical in the eye of Bill Gates.


Steve performed the disturbance-handler role of leadership when he took corrective action when the company was about to get bankrupt. According to the case Jobs saved the company in a way that is not seen in the history of Silicon Valley. Hence it proves him being a disturbance handler.


Steve was also a resource allocator when he used to appoint people in teams and to work they were good at. He allocated Sculley to be the CEO is an e.g of resource allocator.


He was a great negotiator. He used to make people convince about his ideas. People were so influenced by him that they said none of them has done better work than him. One of the reason was he was a good negotiator.



The primary focus of the case is to have an analysis of oneself i.e self-assessment. Discovering what a person is good at can make him reach high targets of life. As Steve Jobs did his self-assessment and did it right he knew he was good at making new and innovative products, so he focused all his attention in doing this job which made him succeed. Doing the job you enjoy and are good at is the key for career development and reaching the top of success ladder. He had a clear vision in his mind for himself and Apple which made him a great leader. So doing self-assessment and having a clear vision is the primary focus of this case.



A leadership theory is an explanation of some aspect of leadership; theories have practical value because they are used to better understand, predict, and control successful leadership. Leadership theory classifications include trait, behavioral, contingency, and integrative. Following is the explanation how all these apply to the case;

_LEADERSHIP TRAIT_ theories attempt to explain distinctive characteristics accounting for leadership effectiveness. Researchers analyzed physical and psychological traits, or qualities, such as high energy level, appearance, aggressiveness, self-reliance, persuasiveness, and dominance in an effort to identify a set of traits that all successful leaders possessed. According to the case Steve Jobs was also a person he was aggressive, very demanding, tough and intimidating. He always showed high level of energy.

_BEHAVIORAL LEADERSHIP_ theories attempt to explain distinctive styles used by effective leaders, or to define the nature of their work.Mintzberg’s ten managerial roles are an example of behavioral leadership theory. This theory applies in the case by discussing different examples that showed Steve Jobs to be an effective leader. As discussed in the question # 2, Steve had showed almost all the managerial roles of being an effective leader when required. He had been an entrepreneur by introducing innovative products. He has been a spokesperson and a figure head for Apple. A resource allocator when he gave the CEO position to Sculley. A leader when he had to launch new products in a perfect way. A disturbance handler when he retrieve Apple back to the place that it deserved and so on.

_CONTINGENCY LEADERSHIP_ theories attempt to explain the appropriate leadership style based on the leader, followers, and situation. In other words, which traits and/or behaviors will result in leadership success given the situational variables. Again Steve Jobs example has been used in this case to explain the contingency leadership. When he changed the culture back to entrepreneurial atmosphere. He was the man who had clear vision and understood the requirement of time and worked accordingly. Another example that the case discuss is when he launch Pixar when working with NeXt.

_INTEGRATIVE LEADERSHIP_ theories attempt to combine the trait, behavioral, and contingency theories to explain successful, influencing leader-follower relationships. Researchers try to explain why the followers of some leaders are willing to work so hard and make personal sacrifices to achieve the group and organizational objectives, or how effective leaders influence the behavior of their followers. In this case it is seen when people though were not given credit of work yet followed Steve and trust him blindly. He made his followers grow and they were loyal to him.

After discussing all the theories, I believe that the most relevant theories to this case and Steve Jobs is _Integrative leadership_. The reason being that it contains all the rest of theories including leader – follower relationship that can be seen in Steve Jobs. The case mainly highlight _Trait and Behavioral leadership theories_ aspect in Steve Jobs personality however if he is studied in detail the Integrative leadership theories can be best applied to him.



As everyone knows that Steve Jobs expired in Oct 2011, it has been 2 years that Apple is performing under Mr. Tim Cook leadership. According to the present position of Apple in the world being the best company, it can be said that Apple performance has reminded the same. One of the reason could be Steve being a great leader trained his followers so well that it help the present management to sustain Apple position in market. Mr. Tim had been the CEO for Apple when Steve was sick and on leave. He made decision on behalf of Steve under Steve observation.

So he has been trained to be the CEO and hence replaced Steve in a good way. However it won’t be wrong to say that the punch of innovation and bring new products in the market is missing be the company has introduced improved versions of the products that Steve Jobs introduced. As people are so hooked up with Apple products it helps the company to sustain its position. But if the company doesn’t introduce something new soon its performance can be effected. As Apple is known for its innovation.

The company recently launch Apple Map App but it was a failure. The perfection element that Steve products used to have was missing in it and Google maps were much better. But if we talk about financial performance then yes it has improved after Steve Jobs as well.

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Leader case study on Steve Jobs. (2016, Aug 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/leader-case-study-on-steve-jobs-essay

Leader case study on Steve Jobs

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