The tall, wiry, adopted son of Paul and Clara Jobs, his father a carpenter, his mother an accountant, grew up to take the world by storm, launching revolutionary products, redefining the incept of business, and telling customers what they needed instead of the other way round. In this assignment, we will venture to demystify the enigma that is Steve Jobs. While most people consider what Steve Jobs achieved to be magical, in Cotter’s (2011) words “developing good business direction isn’t magic. ” Cotter (201 1) goes on to explain that people like Jobs aren’t magicians, but broad- based strategic thinkers who are willing to take risks.
With that in mind, let us have a brief look at Steve Jobs’ background, and then assess five of his key leadership traits that made him the deem-god he was. The Story: “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. ” Steve Jobs When Steve Jobs was born on February 24th, 1955, his biological parents, Abdullah Sandals and Joanne Accessible, who were still students decided to give him up for adoption. Paul and Clara Jobs adopted the baby, naming it Stephen Paul Jobs, vowing to give it the college education they had promised they would.
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At Homestead High School, Jobs met Steve “Hot Woozier and Bill Fernando who had developed what they had named the “Cream Soda Computer. ” While Wok wanted to give it away for free, Jobs came up with a sales pitch and made it a commercial product, selling it to Atari, consequently getting a job there. Upon dropping out of Reed College, Jobs not being a talented circuit designer, enlisted Wow’s support to help him build a circuit board for the Atari game Breakout, thus winning a bonus of $5000 which they used to build illegal “blue boxes,” allowing the user to make long distance telephone calls for free, and sold them.
This planted the idea in Jobs’ mind that sale of electronics could be fun and profitable, and in 1 976, Jobs and Wok darted the “Apple Computer Company’ which sold circuit boards. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world? ” The story that followed makes business folklore today. With Wok working on revolutionary circuits, Steve Jobs figured out a way to turn it into a lucrative business, thus breaking the age ceiling for businessmen in Silicon Valley.
In the sass, Jobs implemented the graphical interface of Xerox’s PARA machines in computers, thus giving the world the first computer with GUI – Apple Macintosh. In May 1985, Jobs was fired as Apple’s chairman by the road of directors for being “bad for Apple. ” Five months later, Jobs resigned from Apple. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. ” Steve Jobs With $7 million, Steve Jobs founded NeXT Inc. Designing aesthetically perfect workstations for the education sector. He then bought The Graphics Group, renaming it Paxar and making highly successful animated films, becoming one of Disney’s largest competitors. In 1996, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, reinvigorated, a new man. His return to Apple marked one of the greatest periods of profitability for Apple, with the introduction of the Imax, pod, phone and the pad, products that even customers didn’t realize they needed. With this, Jobs reinvented computing music and telecommunications, pushing Apple far beyond the reach of his competitors.
He was known for his presentations and his ruthless competitiveness which audiences all around the world cheered, while competitors huddled in fear Of what the Achilles of business was going to do next. “No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. ” Steve Jobs On October 5th, 201 1, owing to complications from a relapse of an earlier stream of pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs breathed his last from a respiratory arrest.
The world mourned the passing of Steve Jobs, millions cried for a man who they had never known, but one who had touched their lives in ways that only he could. Apple, innovation and the world of business at large would never be the same again. The Man behind the Myth: Leadership Traits of Focus: When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it had grown into a slow moving aching with a lot of clutter as it was producing several computer parts and peripherals. After the first product review meeting, Jobs shouted, “Stop! This is crazy! ” He went on to make Apple focus on a two-by-two grid of products.
The columns were labeled “Consumer and “Pro”, and the rows were labeled “desktop” and “portable. ” After this point, Apple focused on four main products that would fall into these categories, thus resulting in the creation Of revolutionary ideas like the pod and the phone. Even in product meetings, Jobs was relentless at dismissing the ideas he thought of as distractions. In his death bed, when Larry Page, co-founder of Google visited him, Jobs told him, “What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great. (Caisson, 2012). Page followed the advice, and that led to Google perfecting Android in its following versions. In my opinion, focus is one of the important characteristics that any leader requires. Without proper focus, an organization loses track of its objectives and tends to get side tracked. Vision: Cotter (2011) states that the first step in leading an organization to instructive change begins with setting a direction for the organization to follow. This involves having a vision for the company, the objectives the company has to achieve in the future and implementing the changes required to achieve the vision.
True to Cotter’s concept, Jobs was a man with a vision. While most leaders settle for a vision that looks good on paper, Jobs was a man driven by a passion to realize the vision he had set for Apple. Some leaders are good at creating a vision while others are good at looking into the details. Jobs, however, was passionate about both the larger picture and the details. While envisioning the future of electronics and reshaping both the music and retail industries with the introduction of pod, tunes and the Apple Store, he was also arguing with his engineers over minor improvements in the design and shape of the pod.
Jobs’ Zen beliefs led him to believe that simplicity was the key to great design, and he implemented simplicity in both the vision and the details. Bending Reality: In Cotter’s (2011) characteristics of great leaders, the second step towards leading an organization to change is to align employees to the vision. Jobs was a man who embodied this idea to extremes that had never been achieved before. In 1 981, Jobs’ colleagues coined the term “reality distortion field” for his powers of persuasion. He had an uncanny ability to stare a person in the eye and tell them something was possible when every fiber of logic dictated that it was impossible.
While most people consider this to be lying or bullying Jobs’ employees think differently. Debt Coleman, says, “It was a self-fulfilling distortion. You did the impossible because you didn’t realize it was impossible. ” This unconventional method of aligning employees and contractors to his vision, where he convinced an employee to reduce the Mac’s booting time by 28 seconds, when it seemed impossible, by saying, “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time? ” is part of Apple lore. He also used this reality bending technique to convince Corning Inc. O deliver a major shipment of Gorilla Glass for the phone in a few weeks when the CEO himself thought it would take several months tallest. The ability to align the entire company to the leader’s vision is another vital characteristic for a leader. Authoritarianism personified: As Morehouse (2012) draws from the McGregor theory to defines the efferent styles of leadership, the most fitting style often attributed to Steve Jobs would be the “authoritarian” style of leadership. Jobs has been called several unpleasant things both in and after his lifetime. These include “egomaniac,” “rude,” “hostile,” “spiteful,” and a range of expletives.
He was often known to insult his workers in public. He was fast to punish and slow to praise. While these are misgivings in a man, there are seldom great leaders who lack misgivings such as these. Jobs’ authoritarianism, while widely criticized was one of the primary reason why Apple rose to be a giant in half a ozone industries while most men dream of changing one industry. Apple’s employees in themselves, were like the New York Yankees, excellent at their craft, and probably the largest egomaniacs in Silicon Valley, but incapable of working with each other without the right leadership.
Jobs’ authoritarian lifestyle with zero tolerance for anyone other than “A players” was probably the single reason Apple achieved what it did. While Morehouse (2012) asserts that authoritarian leaders generally have a very pessimistic and discouraging views of others, he also admits that when employees are learning a new job, authoritarian leaders are the best, and also that authoritarian leaders are very “efficient and successful in motivating others to accomplish work. ” In the changing and troubled times that Jobs’ took up Apple’s helm, the company was always exploring uncharted territory, where previous models to follow did not exist.
I strongly believe that in that context, Jobs’ style of leadership convinced his employees to blindly follow his vision, and hence accomplish seemingly impossible feats. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish: There is no doubt that Jobs was a transformational leader as opposed to the ramifications leaders of his time who chose to motivate using rewards and incentives. Jobs considered himself a rebel and hippie at heart, and when the whole world was chasing around the idea of convention and structure, Jobs romanticizes the idea of being trouble makers and rebels.
The ‘Think Different” ad campaign of Apple was built around the belief that being a rebel was “cool,” and that competitors like Microsoft were trying to kill the spirit of computing. Abraham Moscow explains the pyramid of human needs in his paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943, where the need for praise, connection and achievement or ‘esteem’ ranks just below self-actualization or ‘enlightenment. ‘ Jobs appealed to this part of his employees, telling them repeatedly through words and actions that they were changing the world, that they were part of something larger than just an electronics company.
According to Bass et. Al (2003), one of the important characteristics of transformational leadership is inspirational motivation. Jobs repeatedly provided this while also giving his employees seemingly unachievable objectives, thus pushing them to put all their talent into their work, and roving intellectual stimulation, another characteristic of transformational leadership. Conclusion: In conclusion, Steve Jobs was a man, albeit a great one, with many misgivings and failings. One that was widely criticized for his behavior with people, for his authoritarianism, for being too perfectionist, for bending reality.