In the current essay I would like to consider Steve Jobs leadership style, as well as explain why his leadership style had such a tremendous impact on Apple Inc. and the economy as a whole. To begin with, it should be noted that Steve Jobs – is a legendary figure in the computer industry, who profoundly influenced the development of the whole computer world. Without any doubts, Steve Jobs had a unique charisma and leadership qualities. As a fact, charisma – is the exceptional gift, a complex combination of attractive human qualities. It can be said that nature has generously endowed Steve Jobs’ with talents, including the ability to inspire people, which can do only missionaries and national leaders.
It should be mentioned that those, who were lucky enough to visit any public presentation of Steve Jobs (which sometimes lasted more than hour), could see how enthusiastically this first-class showman improvised on the theme of technology, as well as the life as it is. As a rule, at all his presentations, Steve Jobs looked the same way, which was unusual for the head of large company: from year to year Steve wore the same blue jeans Levi’s, black turtleneck and sneakers. Perhaps, by this he attracted attention, made it clear that he was from “us” and not detached from most people’s person. Moreover, Jobs’ style influenced the style of the company: at the same presentations, Apple’s vice presidents look exactly the same. This same approach is used in advertising “Get a Mac”, where Windows is presented as a businessman with an expensive suit, and the Mac – in T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
As a matter of fact, the leader can not show his leadership skills and qualities always and everywhere. He can show his leadership qualities only in appropriate situations. For example, the head of the company may very well act in certain situations and fail in others. I would like to consider the example of Steve Jobs. It should be noted that at age of 21, Steve Jobs, together with Stephen Wozniak, founded legendary company “Apple Computers”. It can be said that eccentric Jobs was not looked like a traditional corporate senior manager. He grew up in the atmosphere of counterculture of 60-ies, and turned to computers, having behind the LSD experience, a trip to India and living in a commune. It is essential to note that in those days, when there were no personal computers, Jobs, with his unusual style, was just what is needed to create a new industry. In five years he became a leader of the corporation, which worth several billion U.S. dollars. However, the time showed that the Steve Jobs’ unorthodox style is not suitable for the delicate and complex business managing of a large corporation in a competitive market conditions. As a result, Apple Inc. has started to suffer losses, losing in competition with its competitors. Consequently, in 1985 Jobs was forced to withdraw under the pressure of John Sculley, the man, who was invited to lead the company by Steve Jobs. Despite this, Steve Jobs again headed the company in ten years. It is important to note that this happened when the company faced with the need to make a technological breakthrough: a qualitative improvement of their operating system “Macintosh” with the aim to restore clients’ confidence and former position in the market.
It should be mentioned that a corporate leader, who wants to remain effective for a long time, should be able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, be flexible and vary his behavior depending on the situation. However, only a few are able to do this. Much more often, the leader fixates one style of behavior, which, for example, has proved as effective in the days of the formation of the company, but is not suitable for an intense period of growth and retention of the conquered positions. As a result, the company eventually loses its ability to compete on the market. Another typical example – the sad fate of the legendary John Akers, CEO of IBM, ignominiously fired from the corporation in 1993, after years of strong and successful career. In the 1980-ies, Akers made IBM’s a flagship of computer industry, but he was unable to cope with rapid technological changes that swept the computer industry since the early 90-ies. Consequently, in the modern IT-business very often is the situation, when the top management rested safely in their seats not more than five years. As a fact, this periodic “changing of the guard” allow corporations to remain dynamic and adequately navigate the rapidly changing world.
Generally, it is very difficult to predict will be the person a good leader solely on the basis of his personality traits. Therefore, over time, researchers began to incline to the view that it is not enough to consider only some personality traits. Also, the situation in which these traits manifest themselves should be taken into account. This does not mean that personality traits do not affect the chances of becoming leader. This means that not only personality and character of the person, but the situation in which he or she has to play a leadership role should be considered too. According to this point of view, to become an effective leader does not mean to be a “great man”. Rather, you should be the right man at the right place and at the right time.
Analyzing the leadership style of Steve Jobs, it should be noted that there are several theories of leadership, focusing attention both on the personal properties of the leader and the situation in which he operates. The most famous of them is contingency (situational) theory of leadership by Fred Fiedler. It should be mentioned that situational theory of leadership states that leadership effectiveness depends both on how this leader is focused on the task or relationships, and on the extent to which the leader controls the group and has the influence on it. As a fact, Fiedler’s assumption is that leaders can be divided into two types. Representatives of the first type are focused primarily on the problem, the second – on the relationships.
Leader, focused on the task (task-oriented leader) is more concerned to get the job done properly; he does not take into account relationships and feelings of employees. In my opinion, Steve Jobs can be related to this type of leadership, I presume that he was task-oriented leader. The potential advantages of this style are: fast decision-making, which subject to the overall objective and rigorous control over subordinates. In turn, leader, focused on the relationships (relationships-oriented leader), primarily interested in the feelings and relationships among employees. His aim is to improve work efficiency by improving human relations: promoting mutual support, allow subordinates to participate in the development of important decisions, take into account the mood and needs of employees, etc. Of course, there are no strict representatives of one or another style, and some leaders may be oriented both at work and at person. Also, Fiedler argued that neither of these two types of a leader is more effective than another. It all depends on the circumstances and the nature of the situation, namely what is the degree of control of the leader and his influence among group members. This is the cornerstone of his situational theory. In the case of “high control”, the leader has great personal relationships with subordinates, his position in the group implicitly recognized as an influential and dominant, and the work, performed by the group, is well structured and clearly defined. In a situation of “low control” is the reverse – a leader has poor relationships with subordinates, and the goals of the group are determined unclear.
As a result, after ten years after leaving Apple Inc., Steve Jobs was back on top. During this time, almost from scratch Jobs created two companies with a turnover of hundreds of millions of dollars. At the same time, Apple was experienced difficulties. Scully was a good leader, but did not have Jobs’ charisma, in whose possession, even a box of matches looked like a miracle of technology. Sales of the main Scully’s brainchild – handheld Apple Newton failed miserably. The company suffered huge losses and needed a new strategy and new leader. As a result, in 1996 the board of directors decided to buy a NeXT company for $ 400 million and Steve Jobs returned to the company, which he created, becoming the interim manager and resolutely took up the revival of Apple. First of all, he shut the Newton project. Under Steve Jobs’ pressure, Apple refused from the services of all partners in the retail computers sales in favor of one – Comp USA, which currently successfully sells Macs.
Moreover, Bill Gates greatly helped Apple in 1997, when he invested $ 150 million in the company. Apple significantly improved its positions. Even Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh came to market in a few months earlier than the same version for Windows. The decisive actions of Steve Jobs played a key role in the revival of Apple. In 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the world first iPod player. It is essential to note that the main difference of iPod among competition was an innovative interface. As a fact, iPod created a furor. Only for a few years iPod sales became a major source of Apple income. During the first 6 years 110 million of iPod players were sold. Also, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, by 2006 Apple finally rose from the ashes and has considerably strengthened its positions in the personal computer market, driven by a partnership with Intel – all Macintosh began to work on processors from this company. In the same year, Jobs announced first iPhone. Once again, Steve Jobs made a real revolution in man’s interaction with device. In particular, iPhone interface allows you to make all the actions only by fingers, right on the screen, making the stylus and bulky external keyboard unnecessary. The success of iPhone was overwhelming, because the product was revolutionary. All major manufacturers of smartphones, de facto, recognized the new standard for smartphones and quickly set the manufacture of similar devices. By 2011, under Steve Jobs’ leadership Apple has become the richest company in the world. By the summer of 2011, its market value exceeds the total value of Microsoft and Intel. The company’s success contributed to the huge sales of iPhone, all generations of MacBook and the tablet PC iPad.
To sum it up, it should be noted that Steve Jobs – is a legendary figure in the computer industry. According to situational theory of leadership, Steve Jobs was task-oriented leader, who focused primarily on the problem and more concerned to get the job done properly. As a fact, Jobs made many of good things during his career. His achievements have far reaching consequences, and it is extremely difficult to evaluate them all. Every entrepreneur wants to change something in one industry, Jobs has forever changed the half-dozen industries, among which are: personal computers, telephones, animation, music, publishing, video games etc. He was a scholar, accomplished motivator, creator of the long-sighted fashion, a superb showman, a gifted strategist and many others. Throughout his life, Steve Jobs several times fall from the pinnacle of success, but again and again climbed on it, probably because he really loved what he did. I would like to finish the essay with the words about Steve Jobs of another great man – Bill Gates: “The world rarely sees someone, who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it is been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely”, according to Preston Gralla (2011).
Preston Gralla, Computerworld. http://blogs.computerworld.com/19058/what_bill_gates_has_said_about_steve_jobs_through_the_decades (accessed October 20, 2011).