21ST Century Leadership – Steve Jobs Leadership Style

A leader is defined as a person who has the capacity to influence others to attain the set goals (Burns, 1978). According to Burns (1978), leadership is a process that involves influencing members of a group to achieve a goal. One of the most successful leaders in the modern business world is Steve Jobs, the leader of Apple. Apple was founded in 1976 as a computer company and Steve Jobs became its Chief Executive Officer. Steve Jobs is recognized as a visionary leader who has effectively used his leadership skills to revolutionize the computer industry. Many people are impressed with the latest introduction of iPad, iPod, and iPhone into the electronics market, and the crazy sales of these items at the Apple’s stores portrays to the world a good performing company with a leader who must be possessing very effective leadership skills (Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun, 2014). Since Steve Jobs joined Apple, he has continued to demonstrate transformational leadership style and this is demonstrated by the new image that the company acquires as days go by.

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According to Bass (1990), a transformational leader is one who is able to bring about significant changes in the environments they lead through maximum involvement of employees. The most important aspect of transformational leadership is proper engagement of followers. A transformational leader is one who is able to stir up strong emotions in his followers in order to achieve specific goals. Basically, a transformational leader must be able to induce his or her followers to perform tasks that promote realization of objectives (Bass, 1990). Steve Jobs, the Chief Executive Officer of Apple is a transformational leader who uses creativity and motivation to guide his followers toward realization of the organization’s goals. For example, Steve Jobs continuously motivates and influence Apple’s employees to attain maximum level of efficiency. According to Steinwart and Ziegler (2014), the rapid growth of Apple has greatly been influenced by Jobs persuasiveness and compelling personality.

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A transformational leader uses authority and power to ensure that necessary transformations are made in the organizations they lead (Bass, 1990). Steve Jobs is one leader who uses his authority and power to reform the old ways of doing things at Apple. In this manner, Steve manages to inspire Apple’s employees to come up with various opinions on how tasks can be performed differently. For instance, it is through the influence of Jobs’ transformational leadership skills that Apple’s employees have been able to share their opinions concerning how various electronic items can be made differently (Steinwart and Ziegler, 2014). Additionally, with transformational leadership skills, Jobs is able to maintain the highest level of efficiency as he is capable of demanding courage, determination, commitment, and accountability from his employees. Steve also guides his employees to ensure that all tasks are accomplished within the required time. Apple’s leaders who come after Jobs must be prepared to continue with his good works if they are to steer the wheel of the company in the next 20 years (Steinwart and Ziegler, 2014).

Apple uses a mixed type of organizational structure which consists of adhocracy, corporal structure, flat structure, and a functional structure. According to Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun (2014), an organization can have adhocracy structure where there is lack of bureaucratic policies and procedures. This organizational structure occurs when a company has a special need to innovate. The need to innovate may be influenced by increase in competition or by rapid changes in technology. One of the organizational structures used by Apple is that of adhocracy and this structure assists the company to solve very complex problems that enables it to continue with innovation.

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The corporal structure used by Apple is where the company measures its current performance by relating it to traditional performance. This organizational structure assists Apple to plan its activities in line with modern business requirements. In a flat organizational structure, there is a clear chain of commands from the top level management to employees (Isaacson, 2012). This type of organizational structure assists Apple to ensure effectiveness in terms of empowerment and innovation. The flat organizational structure is the main reason why Apple has a distinctive competence in innovation and product design. Apple also uses a functional organizational structure where people in the company are organized according to their levels of experience and expertise. The functional organizational structure assists Apple to ensure maximum operational efficiency within teams because each and every person in the organization can be organized to perform a specific type of task (Isaacson, 2012).

Culture is defined as the beliefs, norms, and attitudes that give meaning to human actions. The practice of managing people in an organization is built around organizational culture. Apple’s management is built on a high performance culture where the strategies implemented are aimed at achieving one common goal as defined in the company’s vision. In addition, the high-performance culture at Apple is implemented by eliminating the past problems and replacing them with new ideas that are brought forth by bright people. Again, Steve has set up an interdisciplinary view of how Apple as a whole would succeed. This culture ensures cohesion throughout the company (Isaacson, 2012).

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Steve Jobs increasingly pushes his employees to do what seems impossible. He treats his employees in a manner that demonstrates his passion for perfection and his desire to work with only the best employees. Steve remains authoritative and harsh towards employees who do little towards achievement of organizational goals. Some employees complain of his ruthless behaviors towards them but Jobs explains that his approach to human capital management is just a way of preventing a work environment when managers cannot direct the activities of employees (Isaacson, 2012). Jobs understands the role played by employees in assisting an organization to realize its objectives and that is why the company does its best to train workers as a way of developing them. Employee development through on-the-job-training assists Apple to increase its employees’ levels of expertise which promotes their positive contribution in development of new electronic products (Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun, 2014).

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Steve’s leadership approach has enhanced workplace productivity and shared vision of Apple as demonstrated in the organization’s achievements during Jobs’ reign. For example, when Jobs develops each and every product he has created, he goes back to the drawing board to ensure that everything about the product is perfect. He also encourages employees to give their best during product development (Isaacson, 2012). This approach helps Steve to enhance employee productivity and to steer Apple towards achievement of its vision and mission. In another example, Jobs strongly believes in face-to-face meetings because he is ready to achieve good results from creativity that comes from such discussions. This way, Steve is able to foster collaborations with employees and other business partners that are geared towards the realization of the company’s mission and vision (Isaacson, 2012).

Even though Jobs has been able to move Apple forward with his transformational leadership strategies, he has not been very effective in the manner in which he handles employees during certain circumstances and in how he influences circulation of information within the company. Ethical conduct is one of the elements of Apple’s mission statement yet Steve has not demonstrated ethics in the manner in which he handles employees. For example, Steve has chosen to maximize returns of shareholders at the expense of employees yet employees contribute towards attainment of goals in the company more than shareholders (Isaacson, 2012). In addition, Steve has influenced Apple to operate in closed business information policy. This prevents adequate reporting particularly when harsh punishments are imposed on employees who fail to observe the rule of secrecy of information. Even though Apple uses a flat organizational structure that ensures effectiveness in communication, Steve does very little to address employees’ concerns thereby making him a very ineffective communicator.

However, Steve has been very successful in motivating and empowering his employees and in gaining customer loyalty. Steve uses performance-based benefits and rewards to motivate and empower his employees. Basically, Jobs pays and rewards his employees according to their contributions in the company. For example, Jobs uses attractive rewards and incentives to workers who have effectively applied their capabilities and skills in producing the best results. This motivational strategy motivates and empowers workers to give their best for the benefit of the organization. The performance based reward and pay system used by Jobs increases employee productivity because it promotes effective job performance and enhances efficiency.

Employee motivation is an effective way of inspiring workers to work hard to assist their company to realize its objectives. Based on Jobs’ effective leadership strategies, other organizations need to motivate employees and transform their companies by applying modern employee management best practices such as establishing relevant achievement goals, making sure that employees’ compensation package matches their levels of expertise and performance, and by training employees to increase their knowledge and skills (Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun, 2014).

Like in Jobs case, companies which establish relevant goals for their employees will motivate workers to perform tasks that will enhance realization of the organization’s vision. This is because these employees will be very much conversant with what is expected of them in a daily basis when they report to work. In addition, organization leaders who match employee rewards and pay to their performance like Jobs does will increase employee productivity and eventual realization of organization’s vision. By training employees like in Jobs’ case, leaders of other organizations will be able to increase employee competency and to increase employee productivity (Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun, 2014). Moreover, leaders of other companies should focus on team work approach to ensure that each and every employee contributes to every work done in the company. Team work will help these leaders to foster unity and a positive co-existence among employees and to limit rivalry that may occur among workers. These leaders should also create flexible work hours for their employees to enable them balance between work and normal life (Ademola, Ogundabegbe and Tunbosun, 2014).

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