Leadership Comparison and Critique

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Leader Comparison and Critique: Steve Jobs & Indra Nooyi

Lauren Murphy
GBA 500
Centenary College

In 1978, J.M. Burns defined successful leaders as being transformational rather than transactional. Burns described the transformational leader as having recognized the organization as a complex system in a chaotic environment. The leader has also responded to complexity by being aware of change. The transformational leader has established a shared vision and inspired the organization to learn and evolve in response to change. Transformational leaders have driven radical change, trading short-term stability for long-term survival. In 2007, Kouzes and Posner refined Burn’s work by breaking down the transformational leader’s qualities into five practices, in the book, The Leadership Challenge. Within each practice Kouzes and Posner identified variety of behaviors that complimented one another and combined those behaviors into one of the practices. The book has served as a reference to identify those behaviors among leaders. Two of the most notable leaders of modern times have been Steve Jobs, C.E.O. of Apple, and Indra Nooyi, C.E.O. of PepsiCo. Both leaders have attained incredible levels of success which may be attributed to strengths among the practices. However, both leaders also have weak spots among the practices which should be addressed to ensure continued success. Notable leader, Indra Nooyi, has been admired by many. Nooyi has always had a personal and intimate approach that has been integrated into this leader’s leadership style. She identified that the biggest factors of her success were, family, friends, and faith. Nooyi said: ”When things look bleak and uncertain, it’s your family, friends, and faith that pull you through…And when I’m wrestling with change in my life, good or bad, the first place I turn to, is my religion, I tell you it really helps.” (Nooyi 2006) Her spiritual beliefs and convictions have served Nooyi well as she cites them as a source of strength and empowerment as a leader. Nooyi has established a relationship with her employees that goes beyond the PepsiCo organization. One time the nanny for Nooyi’s children locked the car keys inside the car. Nooyi was not at the office, Peggy Moore, an associate, answered the phone and told the head of human resources about the situation. The head of human resources went to Nooyi’s house and helped the nanny unlock the car. (Murray, 2004) Indra Nooyi has been able incorporate an appropriate amount of personal life within the position of PepsiCo. Nooyi comes across as relatable and professional simultaneously, a difficult task for any leader. At Apple, Steve Jobs has been on the forefront of change since the beginning. Jobs has been the type of leader that didn’t wait for change to happen. Steve Jobs (May 19, 2006) says… “Innovation distinguishes a leader and a follower.” Innovation has been limitless for Steve Jobs. Since the introduction of i-products, Apple has undergone serious change pioneered by Jobs, and driven by this leader’s strong creative abilities. Jobs has been relatively successful with leading Apple through continuous changes of advanced success. In its fourth quarter Apple posted a net quarterly profit of $904 million. Those results were up 33.6 percent from a year ago. (“Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results,” 2007). Jobs subscribes to the Apple philosophy: “Too many companies spread themselves too thin, making a profusion of products to diffuse risk, so they get mired in the mediocre. Apple’s approach is to put every resource it has behind just a few products.” (Morris, 2007) That philosophy could become the downfall of Steve Jobs.

One of the first leadership behaviors reviewed in The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner was model the way. A leader that has modeled the way has established principals concerning the way people should be treated and the methods used to attain goals. They have established standards of...
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