October 5, 2011 Leave a comment
Today is a sad day, as the world learns that Steve Jobs has passed away. Immediately I remember learning about Steve and admiring him, his vision and leadership. A couple of years ago I wrote an assignment about Steve for my Business Management and Leadership Class, and I would like to remember him by publishing it.
Steve Jobs: Inside The Apple
One of the most advanced computer companies in the world today is the Apple Company. With a 19 percent of market share Apple iTunes is the number one music retailer in the United States, and rising (Ebert and Griffin, 2009). It is no wonder that the company has achieved such large success thanks to the recognized leadership of founder and CEO, Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs co-founded Apple back in 1976, and lead the company through numerous innovative paths, until 1985 when he left the company. But Jobs was not going to hinder his innovative mind, so he embarked in other venues as a bright entrepreneur like Pixar Animation Studios & NeXT Computer. In 1997, more than a decade without the co-founder in the corporation, the Apple Computer Company bought off NeXT Computer, and also Steve Jobs (Lashinsky, 2009). Steve returned to Apple and is now the company’s CEO, and innovative leader.
Characteristics of Steve Jobs as an Effective Leader
Managing change is one of the hardest situations a manager can face, as we have discussed in last week’s discussion board. When Steve Jobs returned to apple after more than a decade, the company was facing a possible bankruptcy, and Steve Jobs not only managed to turn things around, but also made Apple the number one innovative computer company in the US. Jobs achieved this by successfully selecting and motivating a new management team, he motivated employees to create innovative products and launch a new product line, which ultimately helped the company turn around (Lashinsky, 2009).
Another characteristic of this great leader is open communication. Steve Jobs has established an informal and laid-back culture in the Apple Company. His open-door policy helps him maintain this culture, and ultimately helps Apple attract and retain talented people (Ebert and Griffin, 2009). Creating an effective flow of information, and keeping information channels open, is what makes this CEO a successful leader. Being a company immersed in technology, Jobs can provide networked systems and wireless capabilities for communication to be effective within and outside the company (Robbins and Coulter, 2009).
Great motivation is another great characteristic of this CEO. Apple offers numerous benefits for their employees, including rewards programs. Not only does Apple offer employees with the standard benefits like health and life insurance, flexible spending accounts, short and long term disability coverage, long-term care insurance, 401 (k) plans, paid vacations and holidays, and product discounts, but Apple goes one step further to motivate employees (“Jobs at Apple”, 2010). Apple also offers employees an employee stock purchase plan, financial education seminars, tuition assistance, personal and family counseling, an onsite fitness center, café featuring local organic ingredients, commuter programs and even the opportunity to work from home, working as an “Apple At-Home Expert”.
Why People Like… or Dislike Steve Jobs?
For the most part, people in general think that Steve Jobs is not a good leader or a good CEO for the Apple Company. People have recently criticized Jobs for his management skills, and concealing his troubled health to the public, especially to Apple Shareholders. However, even the people criticizing Jobs admit that the company is doing great, and that as long as Jobs continues to be the company’s CEO, the company will continue to flourish and be the most innovative company in the US.
Perhaps Jobs’ tactics are viewed as out of the norm, but he has managed to maintain the company at the top of the industry. One of Apple’s employees, Ratzlaff, who worked with Jobs very closely in the creation of the Mac Operating Software X, stated that Jobs “Has the ability to pull the best out of people”, and also stated that he learned a lot from Jobs (as cited in Kahney, 2008). Whether Jobs’ tactics may be criticized as tyrannical, he is still motivating people and even teaching them a thing or two.
Even modern physiologists, like Roderic Kramer, are trying to come up with new management theories that explain and appreciate Jobs’ way of managing Apple. kramer, a physiologist at Stanford, suggests that “a certain type of forcefulness and perseverance is sometimes helpful when tackling large, intractable problems” (as cited in Kahney, 2008). This CEO has not only revolutionized technology, but also managing. You could say that Jobs is actually motivating people, maybe not using positive reinforcement, but fear. Either way, employees are motivated.
Robert Sutton wrote that Steve Jobs “inspires astounding effort and creativity from his people”, which is a great example as to why Jobs is a good leader (as cited in Kahney, 2008). Jobs may be viewed as a Charismatic-Visionary Leader with a twist. The twist is that Jobs is undoubtedly the boss, and he runs a tight ship, keeping employees on short leashes. However, his way of managing may be a new way to make businesses successful, by intimidating, yet inspiring and motivating your employees.
This CEO’s Legacy
I believe that Steve Jobs’ legacy will be that of a tyrant innovator with a charismatic and laid-back personality. Wearing jeans, sports shoes, and a simple black shirt, Jobs has successfully introduced countless of new products and software including the iMac, iPod and iPhone, into the market. Micromanaging and intimidating people, he has inspired millions. I believe that Job’s legacy is that things are not always what they seem. Jobs is a multimillionaire, but yet he casually introduces his new products and goes to work wearing jeans. He might seem like a tyrant, and his employees might be a little intimidated and even afraid of being fired, but the job gets done, and it gets done well.
Ebert, R. J., & Griffin, R. W. (2009). Business Essentials (7th ed.). [Online version]. Retrieved from AIU Online Virtual Campus. Business and Society: BUS105-0904A-66 website.
Jobs at Apple. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/jobs/us/benefits.html
Kahney, L. (2008, March). How Apple got everything right by doing everything wrong. Wired Magazine, 4 (16). Retrieved January 26, 2010 from http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-04/bz_apple?currentPage=all
Lashinsky, A. (2009, November). Steve Jobs: CEO of the decade. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved January, 26, 2010 from http://money.cnn.com/2009/11/04/technology/steve_jobs_ceo_decade.fortune/index.htm
Robbins, S. P., & Coulter, M. (2009). Management (10th ed.) [Online Version]. Retrieved from AIU Online Virtual Campus. Business Management and Leadership: MGT240-1001A:14 website.