Steve Jobs: Leadership and Decision Making Styles

Introduction

A good manager must be a good leader because these two things have a lot of similarities that make it difficult for people to differentiate them. Managing organizations and making them successful is not an easy task and it requires individuals that are ready, interested and prepared to find solutions to the endless internal and external challenges that weaken or strengthen their companies (Gallo 18). Therefore, this means that these individuals must work extra harder to ensure to put their organizations where they are supposed to be (Blumenthal 31). The high remunerations given to CEOs explain shows the amount of load they carry in ensuring all employees perform their duties properly. This essay discusses the leadership stipule of former Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, and how he revolutionized this company to make it rank among the top 100 best performing corporations in the world.

Background

Steve Jobs was born in 1955 and died on October 5 2011 after a long struggle with cancer. He is described by various business terminologies include marketer, investor, manager, entrepreneur and inventor. He served in various capacities including the chairman, co-founder and CEO of Apple Incl. and his efforts to revolution the production and applications of computers cannot be underestimated. In addition, his name is well known and linked to many consumer electronics ranging from computers, mobile phones, cameras, music players and a variety of other products. He left Apple in 1985 after a long struggle with the boardroom wrangles that threatened the performance of this company. He founded NEXT that specialized in offering higher education and business markets to consumers. He was a CEO and majority shareholder of Pixar.

Apple was by then performing poorly and it was not even able to deliver its operating system and this was a good opportunity for NeXTSTEP to invent the Mac OS X. He was asked to rejoin Apple as an advisor and interim CEO and he seized this opportunity to resurrect this company from oblivion. Today, this company has 406 retail stores in various countries and employs more than 80,000 people on a permanent basis. According to a survey conducted in 2013, the value of its assets was about US$ 207.0 billion with an operating income of about US$ 49.999 billion.

The leadership style of Steve Jobs enabled him to leave significant impacts on the companies he interacted with and this explain why Apple had to seek his services when it faced a financial crisis between 1986 and 1997 (Gallo 22). The following aspects made him an excellent manager and leader and enabled him to record impeccable performance despite his short stay in a company.

Setting the Vision, Strategy, Planning and Goals of Apple Incl.

The vision of Steve Jobs was to revolutionize digital communication and ensure consumers acquired state of the art equipment that will enable them to communicate very fast and efficiently. His vision enabled him to spearhead researches and the production of modern iPods and iPhones. His mission was to ensure there is a new crop of digital communication that will improve the lives of millions of users that wanted to have light, faster and efficient gadgets. Therefore, he used computer technology and developed mobile phones that had touch screens and this became a trending commodity in the international market (Blumenthal 55).

The sales registered by this company between 2009 and 2010 show the fruits of his efforts to ensure technology is embraced by all members of the society. He knew that mobile phone communication was becoming a necessity but not every person could afford to buy expensive gadgets available in the market. Therefore, his mission was to ensure the public has access to quality and cheap mobile phones that would serve them without inconveniences. It is necessary to explain that the mission of Apple Company was to ensure it dominates the local and international market and Jobs embraced this vision by promoting the development of universal gadgets. He ensured that the marketing department of this company focused on the need to promote its products among middle class people to ensure majority of the population bought its mobile phones.

The strategy he employed in outdoing his opponents was setting standards and ensuring that his company produced quality goods that could not be compared with products from its competitors. In addition, he focused his attention on the needs of the population and identified market gaps that were used as opportunities for growth. His keen eye ensured he led his team to develop products that would serve consumers for a long time and perform various roles at the same time (Gallo 33). For instance, his company was the first one to develop and market internet enabled phone. In addition, it pioneered the development of MP4 music systems that was supported by its products only and this means that consumers had to buy them if they wanted to get high quality entertainment. It is important to explain that these leadership attributes made him a unique CEO whose presence evoked immediate transformations in companies.

Decision Making Styles

Jobs were known for his silent reflections that puzzled his peers and subordinates. He made decisions based on various aspects depending on how he perceived their importance and suitability at that moment. For instance, he was known for conducting extensive research and ensuring he had adequate knowledge and information about an issue before making a decision. He was known for his silence whenever he was in office and some critics argue that he used these moments to reflect on the performance of his company and plan what to do. Rationality was another aspect that determined the choice of decisions he made for the company and himself. For instance, the boardroom wrangles that existed in Apple in 1985 led to unfavorable working conditions for managers and he decided to leave the company and found his line.

This decision enabled him to give his competitors chances to manage the company and prove whether they were capable of producing good results or not. It is important to note that he was not fired to leave the company but made this decision based on what he had experienced and the expected outcomes (Gallo 47). The company started registering losses and poor performance two years later after he left it and this trend continued until when investors could not bear it anymore. He was recalled to be its advisor because the investors realized that he had the best interests of the company at heart. In addition, he was focused on the future and issues like leadership wrangles did not arouse any desires to create enmity between him, and other managers. Lastly, it is not easy to separate intuitions from people because this is part of their personalities.

However, Jobs applied objective intuitions while making decisions and this means that he was not just driven by selfish interests, anger, greed or bias in his service. He made sure that his decisions were informed by the need to improve the performance of the company and ensure investors got value for their capital. This explains why there were no instances where he was remorseful about the decisions he made.

Problem Solving Approach

There are various ways of solving problems in companies and this explains why managers should understand most of these techniques. First, it is important to explain that all companies face various challenges but the manner in which they are managed determines their impacts on their success. Jobs experienced serious challenges in streamlining Apple to become what is today. He had to spend sleepless nights thinking of how to shape the perception of employees so that they would have similar thoughts about the company. This put him at awkward positions with most employees including top managers and some of them thought that he was becoming a dictator.

However, he had anticipated resistance from them, especially after his return to the company as an interim CEO and advisor. It is necessary to explain that he solved problems according to how they occurred by delegating duties to some managers. The human resource department was a buzz of activities especially whenever there were issues of product recalls (Blumenthal 66). He ensured that every member accepted responsibility for their actions and this was an effective way of ensuring that there was adequate time and space to discuss issues that affected the performance of the company. He promoted accountability and transparency to ensure workers did not have excuses for poor performance.

Thinking Style

This CEO was known for his untraditional thinking that left his competitors wondering where he would land. Nobody could have predicted his course of action because he was unpredictable. This was an effective strategy he employed in ensuring the mobile industry transformed and offered quality and cheap products to consumers. His main motivation was the need to ensure a majority of the population had an Apple product in their homes. Therefore, he developed a strategy that would ensure at least all homes had an item with his company’s brand name (Ziller 77). He was never tired of thinking outside the box and deviating from what his competitors thought was the mainstream production line. His focus was on satisfying he needs of consumers through the production of a line of products that were superior to others yet cheaper and affordable.

He was objective in his thinking and ensured that consumers had quality and sophisticated products while the company made profits. This was an effective way of ensuring there was balance between profit generation and satisfying human wants. His competitors failed to uphold this line of thought because they could not imagine how their companies would make profits by selling cheap goods that had high costs of production. However, Jobs capitalized on the concept of massive production that reduced costs and ensured there was a large market for products. Other companies produced single line products and this means that their markets were limited. However, his thinking style ensured there was no wastage of market opportunities and this propelled his company to p-produce products of various tastes to ensure the demand of all consumers were met.

Working Culture

The working culture of Apple is self explanatory and anybody joining it does not need an introduction to its traditions. Forts, Jobs revolutionized mobile phone communication and set very high standards that ensured there is competition in this industry. The need to produce mobile phones that multitasked and had state of the art features motivated him to invest in continuous research that helped the company to develop products that got the attention of the public.

It is necessary to explain that most people were used to frequent launches of new products by this company because of Jobs leadership and management style. He always wanted to see the company on the move to develop new products because he believed that technology was not static and thus there was the need to upgrade existing systems. Apple had developed a culture of launching new products and improving the features of existing ones to ensure its clients enjoyed quality services. It is necessary to explain that this was an interesting yet effective way of creating a unique culture of this company.

Today, no company has come close to marching Jobs achievements and progress in making innovations that surprised his competitors and clients. Jobs efforts were rewarded handsomely when it was difficult not to find Apple’s gadgets or software being used in homes, schools and places of work. This challenged other companies to create the famous joke that anyone found eating apples during working hours will be fired. This joke was meant to mean that people should stop using their iPhones during work. Jobs developed a culture of domination by producing cheap and quality goods and floating them on local and international markets. This was customer responsive culture that ensured the products of this company met the needs of its clients.

Skills

This CEO had interpersonal skills that enabled him to interact properly with his workers. Critics argue that it was impossible to identify Jobs from a crowd of workers in his company because he was easy going and did not like to move around with a lot of airs. Therefore, it is right to argue that he had no interest in issues that did not improve the performance of the company; therefore, he did not have time to prod into the affairs of his employees.

He was happy when they followed the company instructions and regarded them with respect to ensure they were conformable at their places of work. Interpersonal skills are very important in ensuring that people establish healthy relationships (Ziller 81). He placed emphasis on the importance of building team work and establishing rapport between him and other workers. In addition, he was a marketer and an educated leader; therefore, he had technical skills that helped him to understand various issues about the functions of applications and software. In addition, he was a genius and able to predict the performance and reaction of products and clients respectively.

Control of Subordinates

Jobs used two approaches to ensure that his subordinates performed their duties according to the expectations of the company. First, he delegated supervisory duties to other managers and ensured they reported to him on a regular basis. This helped him to know the performance of his subordinates and discuss how to improve it. Secondly, he used performance indexes to gauge the work done by his subordinates. He was a financial analyst and used data collected from various departments to evaluate their performance. It is not easy to control a huge number of workers, especially if they are working in a multinational company like Apple. Jobs faced serious challenges in evaluating the performance of his employees. However, he used the technology he had invented to monitor how various outlets were performing.

Organizational Structure

It is important to explain that he established a central communication system that disseminated information to different departments. In addition, he strengthened the hierarchies that existed in the company to ensure all managers and their assistants performed their duties properly (Ziller 87). Therefore, there was a high level of accountability and responsibility regarding the roles of workers. In addition, he embraced geographical organizational structure because this is a multinational company and every outlet had a unique characteristic. Therefore, he allowed branch managers to be in full control of their outlets. In addition, this form of organizational management involved product and customer because of the differences in their tastes and cultural backgrounds respectively.

Leadership Style

He was an effective leader because he involved his team in consultations before making major decisions that affected the company. Jobs allowed branch managers to make decisions about their outlets provided they informed him in advance and discuss the issue before implementing it. He was a good leader because he ensured all workers participated fully and objectively in the development and promotion of new products. For instance, he offered them free samples of the new products to compare their feedback with what the public presented (Blumenthal 71). Critics argue that his leadership style was transformational because he had a tendency of leaving a place better than he found it. He agreed to serve Apple as an interim CEO even though he was forced to leave its management board because of wrangles. This means that his attention was on transforming this company and not just being in a leadership position.

Communication Skills

He was a good communicator because he listened carefully to what the public had to say about the company’s products. This ensured he led his company to produce products that would attract consumers and satisfy their needs. In addition, he had a keen ear for his workers and ensured their suggestions were put into consideration. This motivated them to work harder and contribute to the development of the company. He invested in digital communication and eliminated the use of pagers and other outdated technologies. Therefore, he was a good employer because he recruited workers based on their qualifications and ensured they grew and develop their skills while working in the company. He motivated them to work hard create legacies that would not be easy to match.

Conclusion

Steve Jobs is considered the father of Apple because of his contributions that transformed this company. He was a leader who easily influenced his workers and the public to make use of the available resources to offer quality products and support the company respectively. He was an innovator and transformer that revolutionized the communication and entertainment industry. His management style enabled workers to explore their potentials, grow and help the company to achieve its goals.

Works Cited

Blumenthal. Karen. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. New York: Square Fish, 2012. Print.

Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged. New York: Brilliance Audio, 2014. Print.

Ziller, Amanda. Steve Jobs: American Genius. New York: Harper Collins, 2012. Print.