Situational Leadership of Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs Case Study
Steve Jobs is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. He is also the chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios and is a board member of Walt Disney Company. His creation of the Apple computer, however, is his well-known accomplishment. His personality can be described as aggressive and demanding. He is also considered as one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs. Mr. Jobs has always aspired to position Apple and its products at the forefront of the information technology industry. He has accomplished this by foreseeing and setting trends in innovation and style. Jobs has made history in the business world which, “… has contributed much to the symbolic image of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal” (Wikipedia). His forward driven mindset for developing products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following. His ability to use all four aspects of the Situational Leadership Model in his line of work has made him one of the most successful businessmen today. This case analysis will show how Jobs used the Situational Leadership model to make Apple one of the most innovative computer and technology companies today by effectively using the following leadership styles: selling, telling, participating, and delegating. The Situational Leadership Model states that when used, “…one should always keep in mind that there is no one best way to influence others. Rather, any leader behavior may be more or less effective depending on the performance readiness level of the person you are attempting to influence” (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson). Jobs has successfully adapted all four styles of Situational Leadership throughout his career and has influenced not only the companies that he worked with, but consumers who have bought his products and services. The first quadrant of Situational Leadership is Style (S1), which is “Telling.” Telling is described as “…telling the followers what to do, where to do it, and how to do it” (Hersey, Blanchard & Johnson). Telling can also be directing, or can also be compared to a leader who is autocratic. This area of Situational Leadership believes in high task and low relationship. Jobs managed to interest Steve Wozniak (Co-founder of Apple Inc.) in assembling a computer and selling it. In 1979, Apple aired a Super Bowl television commercial titled "1984". At Apple's annual shareholders meeting on January 24, 1984, Jobs introduced the Macintosh to a wildly enthusiastic audience. The Macintosh was the first commercially successful small computer with a “GUI” Graphical User Interface. While Jobs was a persuasive and charismatic director for Apple, some of his employees from that time had described him as an erratic and temperamental manager. Mr. Jobs does not work alongside his subordinates, he chooses to lead his team from the front, spearheading the innovation and frequently renewed products of the company. The autocratic nature of his leadership also bears some transactional traits, such as using verbal lashings at employees. He was also legendary for creating an atmosphere of fear in the company when he carries out rounds of executions to remove less knowledgeable staff. His action has led to some employees dreading to bump into him in the elevators, for fear of receiving a letter of dismissal subsequently. Effectively utilizing the autocratic style of “Telling”, compounded by means of focusing on innovation and visioning, it is apparent how Jobs can successfully take Apple to greater heights. One great example of Jobs using this style is in the production of the software “iDVD”. “Then Steve comes in,” Evangelist recalls. “He doesn’t look at any of our work. He picks up a marker and goes over to the whiteboard. He draws a rectangle. ‘Here’s the new application,’ he says. ‘It’s got one window. You...
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