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Steve Jobs is among the most prominent leaders in the United States and the world at large. His major success is attached to Apple Inc which is among the most successful companies in the electronics industry. Jobs began his journey of leadership at a young age and by the time his life came to an end, h had made so many achievements as a leader. In analyzing his leadership, it is found that Jobs leadership qualities contributed much to his major successes. However, some areas of weaknesses hindered him from achieving more during his time. If he could recognize such mistakes, Jobs would have been known for achieving more great things as a leader. Steve Jobs is, therefore, a leader that the present leaders can embrace and succeed in their various areas of assignments.
Leadership is one of the essential elements of an organization. The success of any organization will be determined by the kind of leadership used in pursuing the set goals and objectives. A good leader will lead his followers or members towards success, while a weak leader will always cause the entire organization to fail. It is, therefore, still crucial for an organization to analyze and evaluate the individual’s leadership qualities and characteristics before appointing them to lead in any position within the organization (Yoffi & Cusumano, 2015). Among the well recognized past leaders in the world is Steve Jobs, who contributed much to the success of Apple Company. This paper, therefore, contains an analysis of Steve Jobs as one of the prominent leaders in the world.
History of Steve Jobs’ leadership
In the history of leadership, Steve Jobs is recognized as one of the most successful leaders in the world. He was a computer designer, an innovator, and a role model for many people both in their personal lives and in businesses. Jobs worked as the Chief Executive Officer of the Pixar animation studios. He was also the co-founder of Apple Computers, and he revolutionized the animation and computer industries during his time of leadership. As explained by Steinhouse (2017), Steve Jobs developed much interest in dealing with computers at a very young age. Further research reveals that his father’s machinist job inspired Jobs to love electronics and hence the more interest in computer and engineering.
History reveals that Steve Jobs was a bright student such that his teachers tried to skip him in several grades to the high school level, but his parents would decline that. He met Steve Wozniak while he was in high school who later became his life partner mainly because of their love for computer and electronics. However, while in college, Jobs dropped out during the first semester primarily to explore his spiritual life as he traveled to India. In the pursue his spiritual life development, Jobs was able to gain more enlightenment in work ethnicity as well as in his view and perception towards life (Schoemaker, Heaton & Teece, 2018).
At the age of 21 years old, Jobs, together with Wozniak, established the Apple computers business in his family garage. As they were seeking for capital to finance the new company, Jobs was forced to sell his Volkswagen bus while at the same time, his partner Wozniak had to sell his scientific calculator to contribute towards the needed capital (Sarfraz, 2017). It is also essential to understand that all this was happening at a time when computers were, and not every American would afford to have one. Steve Jobs took the role of marketing while Wozniak took charge of the technical development, and as a result, the small business made many sales in consumer-friendly machines.
Sales were increasing with an increasing rate as time continued. Research shows that Apple II became more successful as compared to the first model, where sales would increase by 70%. In the year 1980, when the business was being recognized as a publicly traded company, it had $1.2 billion estimated market value. Because of Jobs’ management style and tenacity, Pixar emerged as one of the most successful businesses in the Toy story (Pfeffer, 2016). When Steve took the role of the CEO, he pushed the company’s progress by prodding and encouraging all the team members in abrasive ways. At the same time, it is revealed that during his time at Pixas, Jobs developed loyalty among most of the team members, something that made it easier for him to perform his roles and responsibilities. Steve Jobs usually put more emphasis on the importance of team working among the employees (Kollenscher, Popper & Ronen, 2018). He believed that one individual could not succeed by his self, but a combination of effort and ideas would always reap attractive results. Though Steve would make the final decisions concerning design and other critical issues, he would still recognize other people’s opinions and even grant everyone the chance to speak out their views and thoughts before coming to any conclusion.
Jobs believed that innovation and creativity are what distinguishes a leader and a follower. This made him to always remain creative and innovative in everything that he does. His primary objective was to ensure that his followers still see the best from him and not only should he guide others on what to do, but he strived to always lead by example. At the same time, Jobs always expected high quality from his team members, something that helped him to ensure that everything that he does turns out to a huge success (Krapfl & Kruja, 2015).
In the year 1997, Apple bought Pixar after it had succeeded to sell its operating system to the American consumers. When Apple bought Pixar, Steve Jobs turned to be the company CEO where he used to work for an annual salary of $1 per year (Kane, 2015). Under Jobs leadership, Apple developed various ways of innovative devices including the I-Pod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. This is the time when Jobs started revolutionizing music, mobile communications, music among various industries in the healthcare and retail industries. In one of the interviews, Jobs responded that the consumer does not determine what he wants, but it is the work of the company to identify and determine what is best for them. In responding this way, he meant that creativity and innovation are key in the modern business world and hence a company must always invest in research and development to provide the best products and services that can meet their needs.
Jobs made use of his previous experiences, such as that of growing up in San Francisco in shaping how he designs the products which caused Apple to succeed. Because of such knowledge, he made many criticisms over the sheltered lives in the computer industry. In the year 2004, Apple made an announcement that Jobs had pancreatic cancer. As a result of the fear of death, Jobs decided to focus his on developing Apple products, which made the company gain more popularity in the early 2000s. Despite Jobs being ill, he made sure that the company launched its most significant creations that made the business more famous and successful (Heracleous & Papachroni, 2016). After some short time, iTunes turned to be among the leading retailers in the United States. Research also reveals that Steve Jobs commissioned a $138 million yatch, also known as Venus, which offers structural glass walls before he died. Despite being aware that he would die before the boat getting finished, Steve Jobs proceeded with designing Venue until the end.
Steve Jobs leadership qualities
In all his life, people knew Steve Jobs as an innovative and influential leader. Apart from being the founder of Pixar and Apple, Jobs also lead various organizations into becoming part of the most successful companies in the United States. He was a hard working and a demanding leader while at the same time; he also possessed simplicity and Zen characteristics. There are many lessons that current leaders can learn from Steve Jobs and become successful in their areas of duty. The following are some of the Jobs leadership qualities that contributed to his success in everything that he did as a leader (Baker & Baker, 2017).
One of the characteristics of a good leader, as described by Yoffie & Cusumano (2015), is having a high degree of confidence. Leading people is not easy, and they need to trust that they lead in the right direction. To influence the followers and make them do what the leader wants to do, confidence is a necessity, and lack of it makes the leader less influential contributing to failure in his leadership position. In all his areas of leadership, Steve Jobs demonstrated how important it is for a leader to have a high degree of confidence. Confidence gave Steve Jobs’ followers a sense of self-assurance needed to break the barriers for creating most of the innovative technological pieces that exist in the world today. Among Jobs, most famous stories about confidence are the time when he quickly needed a special kind of glass for the iPhone front (Steinhouse, 2017). An employee said to him that it would not be possible for Jobs to get that specific glass, but instead, he kept on telling the employee that he could see so it, and he should not be afraid. Because a high degree of confidence, Jobs become such a successful leader to the extent that many people recognize him in the present world.
Being adaptable is another characteristic of a good leader. I most of the cases, things do not happen as they are expected or meant to happen. As a leader, it becomes essential to be easily adaptable to ensure that the organizational goals and objectives are met despite any changing circumstances. Jobs’ ability to adaptable became part of his advantages as a leader in various ways. Because of his lack of empathy, research reveals that Jobs was ousted from Apple at the age of 30 years old something that led him to spend 12 years adapting new skills and more of his unique leadership styles to fit the company’s needs. Many knew Steve as a focused leader who also took care of other people’s feelings, one of the things that caused Apple to cut their relationship with him but after adopting the new skills and qualities, he went to become the pioneer of the company’s most fabulous creations (Pfeffer, 2016).
Another thing that made Jobs an extraordinary leader was his ability to act with a sense of, something that was found incomparable by many people of his time. He would always want to grab an opportunity as soon as it is identified and waiting for a later time was never part of him. This leadership quality caused Jobs to develop most of the cutting edge products while at the same time develop more innovative solutions that no one thought would need them. For instance, when Steve developed the iPad, most people claimed that the device would be a waste of time and resources, and no one would use it mainly because of the existence of smartphones. However, what happened was actually opposite such that almost every individual owns or wants to own an iPad as a personal electronic device. Because of his character to act under the sense of urgency, Jobs was able to future and encouraged his team members towards a higher level of success (Kollenscher, Popper & Ronen, 2018).
Good leaders are visionary, and they see ahead of what is happening at present. Leading others in the right direction and the right way requires the leader to have a clear understanding of where the organization is going and what it needs to achieve as well as how the objectives can be met (Yoffie & Cusumano, 2015). Despite all the other things that Jobs did, he had a clear vision which challenged all his employees to act with the same vision. Jobs would always think of the future while at the same time having a clear picture and an idea of what he needed to move forward. Because of such kind of a vision, it made him pull all members of his team in helping them to work towards a common defined goal.
Which areas did Steve Fail?
Apart from his high level of success as a leader, it is also essential to recognize that Jobs did not always do well in their areas of duty, but he went through some forms of failures and mistakes that affected his leadership. One of the areas in which he failed is that Jobs was often bully when dealing with his followers to the extent that he would question an individual’s intelligence publicly, whenever he found some fault with him. He would also bark at his followers flaunt the rules among many other bully things. However, it is not necessary for a leader to be arrogant to impress others of his abilities. Jobs would still be a good leader if he did not apply the bully character. According to Steinhouse (2017), a real leader will work towards developing and maintaining some essential leadership and management skills and this is one of the areas in which Jobs failed and were it not for this, he would have achieved more successes during his time of leadership.
He lived with bad decisions
At his young age, Jobs invited John Sculley to run the Apple business. Unfortunately, John had no understanding of Apple’s brand and culture, and he after consolidating enough power, John lead to Jobs’ replacement, which again leads to the suffering of the Apple brand. This is evident when Jobs is quoted saying that he hired the wrong guy who destroyed everything he had worked on for ten years. Jobs keeps on saying that a leader should not trust employees but always trust his guts and move quickly in addressing his decisions. However, the reason for Apple’s suffering was his lousy decision making something that affected his leadership success (Schoemaker, Heaton & Teece, 2018). As a leader, Jobs would have ensured that he chose and assigned the role to a trusted and experienced employee. However, he did not take enough time to understand and evaluate John’s characteristics and abilities as an employee.
Steve would not communicate his goals and expectations
Employees are part of the most prestigious groups of stakeholders. These are the people to directly take part in implementing the set plans and strategies and hence having them know of where they are going, and the expected outcome would be necessary. However, this is something that Jobs would not consider doing in this reason of leadership. Instead, Jobs would always have a picture of what he wanted to achieve and lead employees to work in that direction, but he would rarely open up to them concerning his goals and expectations. According to Steinhouse (2017), once a visionary leader sets a goal, he expects that everyone else will move towards the same direction. As such, Jobs would often fail to understand why people were not getting it the way he expected, yet it would seem too apparent to him. Instead of clarifying his goals to the employees, Jobs would humiliate them publicly whenever they seemed to miss it. As a result, one of his team members known as Rob Johnson, who was the creator of one of the leading retail stores left. The vice president of Apple known as Alison Johnson also left among many other prominent members that were contributing much to Apple’s success.
Staff training and investment
As pointed out earlier, employees are part of the most prestigious groups of stakeholders who take part in almost every kind of business operations. Therefore, it is essential to invest in staffs in ensuring that they possess all the required knowledge and skills for them to perform their assigned duties and responsibilities appropriately. However, staff training was not something in Jobs mind as a leader. Jobs expected that it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure that they can do what they are supposed to do. In his recruitment and hiring processes, Jobs would not focus much on skills and education (Heracleous & Papachroni, 2016). He would also not take time to train both the new and old staffs, something that made it a challenge for his team members to adapt to the business environmental challenges. Almost everyone who worked with Jobs got amazed by his decision-making capacity, mainly because of his instinct. However, a good leader should not only rely on his instincts, but investing in staffs is an essential tool towards success.
According to the above explanations, Steve Jobs can be recognized as one of the prominent leaders not only in the United States but in the world at large. Apple Inc could not be where it is today if it were not for the efforts dedicated by Steve Jobs on the company during his time of leadership. His leadership qualities contributed much to the company’s success as well as to his success as a leader. Jobs was always smart and quick to think and make decisions, which is something that many leaders lack in the present world, thus making it hard for one to succeed. However, despite his many achievements, some weaknesses have been pointed out concerning Jobs’ leadership. One of the failings has been recognized as the lack of investing in staffs’ training. If Jobs would have realized such weaknesses and worked on them, he would probably have achieved more during his time and hence, something that the leaders of today must learn.
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