Leadership issues are actively researched and widely represented in the modern literature on management, economics, and psychology. The variety of sources explaining the phenomenon of leadership makes it difficult to identify its essence. Current approaches primarily focus on the fact that a leader is a competent manager, an organizer with practical communication skills, experience in various spheres of activity, and the desire to achieve the goals set. One of the vital aspects and factors in the success and survival of an organization is leadership. Steve Jobs’ position in business was examined to explore the role of this phenomenon in company management in more depth. The study was based on various articles, online resources, and the textbook Leadership theory and practice by Peter Northouse.
An essential part of the company is its background, the story of its inception. In April 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer Co, officially incorporated in 1977 (Gansky, 2017, p. 62). Wozniak designed the new computer, while Jobs sought out customers, selected employees, and the necessary materials for the job. The first item of the new organization was the Apple I computer, which cost $666.66. The famous Apple logo was created in 1977 by Rob Janoff, at that time the art director of the Regis MacKenna agency. Depicting a bitten apple, he decided to play with the term byte: a unit of information and, at the same time, the verb “to bite.” The appearance of the Apple II gadget made the company a key player in the personal computer market.
The firm began to grow and became a publicly traded organization in the 80s. Steve Jobs became chairman of the company’s board of directors. Next came internal problems that led to a reorganization of the firm and Jobs’ resignation. Together with five former employees, he founded a new company, NeXT, which engaged in hardware and software development. In the late 90s, Apple, which was going through difficult times and needed a new strategy, acquired NeXT. Jobs took over as an advisor to Apple’s chairman, and in 1997 he became Apple’s interim CEO. Under his leadership, the company has reached a new level and released many hit products.
For 40 years, Apple went from an unknown project of two young entrepreneurs to the principal technological corporation in the world. The company is distinguished from others by its leadership strategy. Steve Jobs was a brilliant American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor who was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. He is one of the most assertive managers of his time, and his company changed the shape of cell phones and defined a new taste for customers. For that reason, learning about business leadership and all its components through the example of such a person is a great way to delve deeper into the subject.
The Meaning of Strategic Leadership
A strategic leader provides vision, direction, growth prerequisites, and context for the success of a corporation. Management skills occupy an important place in creating a company’s policy concept and strategic plan (Northouse, 2016). Steve Jobs was a proponent of a form of leadership called “no excuses.” Successful people, he believed, do not rely on others; they foresee unexpected circumstances, set clear expectations, and never run away from responsibility (Rossman, 2019). The power of Jobs’ strategy is that, through the application of a focused and coordinated set of measures, it was strictly aimed at solving the main problem at hand. The head of Apple did not make loud statements about ambitious goals, did not talk about revenues and profits, about the company’s unique mission. Jobs acted fundamentally, reshaping the business logic that had existed before in his industry.
In the business world, leadership is one of the most significant forces of intangible nature. One of the circumstances for the successful implementation of management of the organization is applying the mechanism of strategic leadership. It is necessary to interpret the surrounding world with a fresh perspective and vision to solve problems and move forward. Steve Jobs could influence individuals or groups to direct their efforts toward the strategic goals of the company. Apple is a multi-structured organization with many departments, employees, and products. Developing a strategic plan and having a leader who will not only come up with that plan but also implement it is fundamental.
Approaches to the Study of Leadership
Today, thousands of different studies on leadership have been conducted. There are three main approaches to the definition of leadership factors in management theory: personal, or skills, behavioral, and situational (Northouse, 2016). Each system offers a different solution to the problem of effective leadership. Considering the fact that Apple is a company that deals with other areas and employs workers of various specialties, the management of one or another task should not go according to one plan. Accordingly, a leader needs to address all aspects at once: the behavior, the problem, to engage their personal qualities. And most importantly, to apply them in a specific case, not in each in the same way. Thus, the most suitable option for the company in question is the situational approach to the study of leadership.
The personality approach implies that all types of situations require a set of particular qualities to lead. At the same time, this view would not be valid for Apple because there is no set of personal qualities that all influential leaders have since different situations require different abilities. According to the behavioral approach, effectiveness is not determined by unique features but by his behavior toward subordinates. At the same time, the disadvantage of this method for the organization in question is the tendency to think that there is one optimal leadership style. Assumptions do not provide clarity and certainty about the company’s future development and thus call into question planned tactics. The situational approach incorporates subordinates’ needs and personal qualities, the nature of the task, the requirements and influences of the environment, and the information available to the manager. Thus, it engages different directions, gives a broader view of the picture, and helps the leader make a rational strategic plan. All these criteria are essential for Apple and create the foundation for competent administration.
The Role of the Leader in Strategy Development
Skillful management of a company is one of the main factors of its success and high productivity. An organization’s development strategy and leadership effectiveness are related to the head’s objective and subjective capabilities, managing coalitions, creating and strengthening collaborative partnerships with other firms. Steve Jobs is considered one of the key figures in the computer industry as a whole and the man who primarily determined not only the creation but also the development of Apple. He contributed significantly to the formulation of strategies of various kinds for the company. Immediate confirmation of the point that Jobs made a meaningful contribution to the history of Apple is the fact that the official website of the organization has a separate section dedicated to his memory (Apple, Inc, 2021). Jobs played a role for the company not only as a strategist but also as an implementer who brought to life many of the ideas that led the organization to success.
Leadership Values and Ethics
Social responsibility and company development are closely related to leadership, as these aspects are components of one universal process of corporate culture formation. Ethical leadership refers to fair management practices based on solid principles. Apple conducts its business in an honest and law-abiding manner. According to the organization’s ethical standards and policies, employee behavior is vital to its success as it is to create quality and highly competitive products (Apple, Inc, 2021). Business conduct policies are at the core of how the firm does business and embodies strategic plans into reality. Thus, if the existing culture enhances the organization’s progress, it is necessary to develop a plan and measures to support or strengthen such a culture. Established values and the chosen leadership approach have a significant impact on employee behavior and, as a result, on organizational effectiveness.
Ethical leaders set reasonable but high standards for their followers, which they also adhere to. They represent the company’s core values and serve as role models for others. Steve Jobs went down in history not only as of the creator of great technological products but also as an eccentric and demanding manager (Smith, 2019). The entrepreneur’s biography described a job interview scene in which Jobs asked candidates the most cavalier questions: whether they had sexual experiences and used drugs. He did it to get them out of their comfort zone and see if they knew how to deal with stress quickly. An ethical leader is not perfect, but such a person is team-oriented and has a fair workplace policy ethic. Although Jobs could behave eccentrically in some situations, he always paid attention to his subordinates, wanted to pass on his knowledge and experience, and walk together toward the same goal. This approach helps to develop corporate social responsibility in employees.
The role of the leader in managing employees is a fundamental aspect of the development of the company. Leadership issues are crucial to achieving organizational effectiveness. Steve Jobs is directly related to the next apple that changed the world. He wasn’t only a businessman – he became a generational hero of sorts. Despite all the difficulties he faced, he confidently pursued his goal. Some of Jobs’ personality traits and demeanor did not quite fit the standard definition of a leader. Nevertheless, he eventually learned to manage in a strategic leadership style and sacrificed his ideas for Apple to favor a more sustainable administration model. It was his form of management that made the company what everyone else knows it to be today. Thus, for an organization to be successful, a director needs to take the time to develop leadership, adhere to the company’s ethical values, generate new strategies, and adapt existing ones to current realities. A company’s success depends not only on the qualities of the person in charge but also on how well he uses the tools available and applies them to life.
Apple, Inc. (2021) Remembering Steve Jobs. Web.
Gansky, A. E. (2017) Myths and legends of the anti-corporation: a history of Apple, Inc., 1976–1997. Doctoral dissertation. The University of Texas at Austin.
Heracleous, L. and Papachroni, A. (2016) Strategic Leadership and Innovation at Apple Inc. California: Sage.
Northouse, P. G. (2016) Leadership: theory and practice. California: Sage.
Rossman, J. (2019) Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas to Become a Digital Leader. New York: McGraw Hill Education.
Smith, D. (2019) ‘The Steve Jobs guide to manipulating people and getting what you want’, Insider, Web.