Situational Leadership of Steve Jobs

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He has accomplished this by foreseeing and setting trends in innovation and style. Jobs has made history in the business oral which, has contributed much to the symbolic image of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal” (Wisped). His forward-driven mindset for developing products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following.

His ability to use all four aspects of the Situational Leadership Model in his line of work has made him one of the most successful businessmen today. This case analysis will show how Jobs used the Situational Leadership model to make Apple one of the most innovative computer and technology companies today by effectively using the following leadership styles: selling, telling, participating and delegating. The Situational Leadership Model states that when used, “… One should always keep in mind that there is no one best way to influence others.

Rather, any leader behavior may be more or less effective depending on the performance readiness level of the person you are attempting to influence” (Hershey, Blanchard & Johnson). Jobs has successfully adapted all four styles of Situational Leadership throughout his career and has influenced not only the companies that he irked with but consumers who have bought his products and services. The first quadrant of Situational Leadership is Style (SSL), which is “Telling. ” Telling is described as “… Ailing the followers what to do, where to do it, and how to do it” (Hershey, Blanchard & Johnson). Telling can also be directing, or can also be compared to a leader who is autocratic. This area of Situational Leadership believes in the high task and low relationship. Jobs managed to interest Steve Woozier (Co-founder of Apple Inc. ) in assembling a computer and selling it. In 1979, Apple aired a Super Bowl television commercial titled “1984”. At Apple’s annual shareholder’s meeting on January 24, 1984, Jobs introduced the Macintosh to a wildly enthusiastic audience.

The Macintosh was the first commercially successful small computer with a “GUI” Graphical User Interface. While Jobs was a persuasive and charismatic director for Apple, some of his employees from that time had described him as an erratic and temperamental manager. Mr.. Jobs does not work alongside his subordinates, he chooses to lead his team from the front, spearheading the innovation and frequently renewed products of the company. The autocratic nature of his leadership also bears some transactional traits, such s using verbal lashings at employees.

He was also legendary for creating an atmosphere of fear in the company when he carries out rounds of executions to remove less knowledgeable staff. His action has led to some employees dreading to bump into him in the elevators, for fear of receiving a letter of dismissal subsequently. Effectively utilizing the autocratic style of “Telling”, compounded by means of focusing on innovation and visioning, it is apparent how Jobs can successfully take Apple to greater heights. One great example of Jobs using this style is in the production of the software “DVD”. Then Steve comes in,” Evangelist recalls. “He doesn’t look at any of our work. He picks up a marker and goes over to the whiteboard. He draws a rectangle. ‘Here’s a new application,’ he says. ‘It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says BURN. That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make. ‘ (Mike Evangelist Lead Developer for Apple DVD) Because of this leadership style, and demanding the exact vision that he wants to see, Apple recently overtook Microsoft as the largest tech company in the world.

The second quadrant of Situational Leadership Style is (SO), which is “Selling”. When Jobs was fired, Apple floundered for 12 years, losing its mystique as well as its profits. Jobs then returned in 1997 and the rolls of the mimic, pod, phone, and pad have all become self-propagating events, which has propelled Apple back into the mainstream of computing and technology. Jobs may be the last true great pitchman capable of making vast swaths of the fractured American public take notice of his latest wares all at the same time.

He is famous for his obsessions, such as keeping new products under wraps until he can roll them out at glitzy, tightly scripted, massively observed events. Like all great salesmen, Jobs knows that controlling the product is a lot less important than controlling our desire. Jobs didn’t create the modern product launch. Hollywood, which is in the business of building and marketing an endless stream of new products, discovered long ago that audiences may be fickle, but their appetites can be stoked.

Jobs brought the Hollywood-style role to the tech industry in 1984 when he set out to make the launch of the first Mac, a pop-cultural milestone not unlike the first Star Wars movie, which he studied closely. The third quadrant of Situational Leadership Style is (SO), which is “Participating”. Participating allows the leader to have a role that encourages and communicates with his followers. Other words to describe Participating are collaborating, facilitating, and committing. Steve Jobs uses a hands-on approach to communicate to his developers and customers. He is known to communicate by email, blobs, and even phone calls.

This form of “Participating” with his customers and developers is highly effective because he is able to receive first-hand information about what they personally experience and give him constructive feedback in return. By using email as a channel of immunization, he is able to collaborate with his developers and customers. His blobs are also another form of communication channel that allows for everyone on the internet to view and respond to him to participate in the conversation. A phone call from Steve Jobs is a “privilege” channel of communication that allows for instant feedback and support.

Jobs also participate in personally showcasing the first demonstration for the Mac computer. Jobs’ main participation is in the form of presenting Apple merchandise and business. The achievement of the company and the CEO stems less from a participative or democratic style of a dervish, but very much more from Jobs’ ability to constantly innovate and make things happen. Mr.. Jobs has used the (SO) style to empower his tech developers and push them along in their careers as they have and continue to create great products for the masses.

The fourth quadrant of Situational Leadership Style is (SO), which is “Delegating”. In 1978, Apple recruited Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as CEO while Jobs worked building new computers and software that would change the world. In 1983, Jobs lured John Scullery away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO. He asked Scullery, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world? “. Leaders often have a hard time knowing when to let others step forward, but no leader can do everything, nor should they.

In the private sector, we often see entrepreneurs get into trouble when they refuse to cede control of the business once it is up and running. Jobs had that problem and he lost the company to Scullery in 1984. Now in his second stint at Apple, and certainly in the wake of his illness, Jobs has delegated more to others. “That’s what really great leaders do. Steve Jobs does that with insanely great products” this statement was taken from Scott McNealy who is the Chairman of Sun Microsystems (McNealy: Hire Great People and Delegate”). “Stave’s learned to delegate.

That wasn’t true in the early years, but he does now and he’s become a master at it,” said Larry Session, a Paxar board member who has been a friend and confidante of Jobs for nearly a quarter-century (San Francisco Business Journal 2003). Steven Jobs is capable of using each of the four styles described in the Situational Leadership model. His style preference, however, appears to be (SO) “Delegating”. Low amount of task behavior and low amount of relationship behavior. Like many company owners, he tends to alternate between (SO) and the very directive (SSL) High Task/Low Relationship.

This kind of leader has little time for people requiring hand-holding. They tend to make a decision upfront as to whether this person “gets it” or not. If you get it, then you tend to get a delegating (SO) and if you don’t get it he tends to do much more ‘Telling” (SSL Steve is perfectly situational and flexes his styles appropriately as per Heresy’s Situational Leadership model. As of March 2011, “Apple has kept a tight lid on Steve Jobs health status and whether he will be coming back for the March 2 event (pad 2 release date)… ” (minima. Com). minima. Mom has stated that Jobs’ current COO and acting CEO, Tim Cook, will be doing the honors of presenting the next pad 2, if this is the case, there is a good possibility that Cook will be his successor. Jobs waning health will need a successor to run and continue Apple Inc.’s legacy. Who will Jobs choose for his successor? If we look at the possibility of Cook taking on this huge responsibility, he will need to make an impact with the next technology standard as Jobs has done. Could Cook perform at this level when his primary job at Apple is to manage day-to-day operations?

He is also responsible for all the company’s worldwide sales and operations as well as end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, service, and support in all markets and countries. Does his current role as COO and acting CEO, give him enough credentials to be Jobs’s successor? minima. Com stated that “… Jobs has resisted a succession plan for a long period of time. So while the board is signaling that it has one, that plan might simply constitute that they are going too out and look for somebody… “.

If Cook is currently in his position of COO and acting CEO, then why would Jobs resist his succession plan? Jobs might not feel that Cook may be the best fit. We feel that due to Cook’s experience as a lead sales representative and previous position, he would not be a sufficient replacement for Steve Jobs. ‘Whoever is named CEO of Apple after Jobs is clearly going to have a big impact on the valuation of Apple” (minima. Com), this statement that the person to take on this position should be highly respected and can take on the position as if Steve Jobs never left.

We believe that Apple’s successor should be a current and experienced Apple developer who has invested time in the company and has made significant progress at their level of expertise and if given the opportunity, could set a new standard for the technology world. In addition to performing at the top level, this developer should also have the same drive and innovative mindset that Jobs possesses. With these characteristics, Apple will continue to flourish in this technology age and continue to push Apple to the forefront of current and modern products and services for consumers.


Cite this paper

Situational Leadership of Steve Jobs. (2021, Apr 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/situational-leadership-of-steve-jobs/



What are the 4 situational leadership styles?
The four situational leadership styles are directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. These styles are used to adapt to the needs of the situation and the development level of the team or individual being led.
what kind of leader is steve jobs?
Steve Jobs is a strong and visionary leader. He is able to see the potential in people and projects, and has the drive and determination to make his vision a reality.
Who is an example of situational leadership?
An example of situational leadership is a leader who is able to adapt their leadership style to the situation they are in.
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