The purpose of this essay is to analyze a leader by using leadership trait approach. The leader chosen for this purpose is Steve Jobs who is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. The leader will be analyzed to identify some of his traits that contribute to his effective leadership.
Firstly, I will describe the background of Steve Jobs and stage of his leadership development. Next, a leadership trait theory is selected and briefly reviewed. Then, Steve Jobs’ leadership traits are identified and examined based on the theory. Finally, weaknesses of Steve Jobs are pinpointed and suggestions for improvement are discussed.
2.0 Overview of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco. He graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, and enrolled in Reed College in Portland. One semester later he had dropped (All about Steve, n.d.). At age of 19, Jobs took up a job at video-game manufacturer Atari and struck a friendship with fellow designer Steve Wozniak in the workplace (All about Steve, n.d.).
When twenty year old Jobs discovered the Wozniak’s design of a very compact personal computer, he persuaded Wozniak to start a company with him to market the computer. In 1976, Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple Computer (Wikipedia, 2008). By 1980, Apple had already released three improved versions of the personal computer and successfully became an important player in the nascent personal computer industry. In December 1980, Apple Computer went public, making Jobs a multimillionaire (Chandy, 2005).
In 1983, Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO to manage Apple’s expansion. However, as the Macintosh took off in sales in the following year, Sculley felt Jobs was hurting the company and persuaded the board to strip him of power. Therefore, in May 1985, the board dismissed Jobs from the post of the head of Macintosh division (ICMR, 2002).
Determined to create great new hardware products, Jobs leaved Apple and founded NeXT. After years of sluggish sales, Jobs shut down its hardware division in 1993 and repositioned it as a software company (Angelelli, 1994). It was the nadir of Jobs’ career. Nevertheless, Jobs also acquired LucasFilm, a movie studio, and incorporated Pixar Animation Studios. The first film produced by the partnership with Disney, Toy Story, brought critical acclaim to the studio when it was released in 1995 (Wikipedia, 2008).
In 1996, Apple bought the NeXT to welcome Jobs back to the company. He soon became Apple’s interim CEO after the directors lost confidence in CEO Gil Amelio. Jobs purged the board and started to take drastic measures to save the company. He cancelled dozens of research projects and cut spending wherever he could. Besides, the introduction of iMac was also a stunning success and made Apple to become the industry’s most innovative company. As Jobs’ leadership of Apple had proven efficient, he took over as Apple’s permanent CEO in 2000 (All about Steve, n.d.). As of today, Jobs has managed his way back to the top. Throughout his career, he has been humiliated and experienced business failure. Yet he is now regarded as one of the most prominent figures in both computer and entertainment industries and the visionary leader of iconic Apple. In 2007, he was even named the most powerful businessman by Fortune Magazine (Reuters, 2007).
3.0 Overview of Leadership Trait Theory – Big Five Model of Personality According to Lussier and Achua (2007), traits can be defined as distinguishing personal characteristics, and personality is a combination of traits that classifies an individual’s behavior. Therefore, leadership trait theories were developed to identify the personal traits that clearly differentiate leaders from followers (Northouse, 2007).
One of the most widely recognized personality models is the Big Five Model of Personality, which can be used to describe the most salient aspects of...