Styles of Leadership: Jobs and Lentz


An organizational leader plays a significant role in the success of an enterprise. The leadership style determines the level of employee commitment (Allio, 2013). Two leadership styles that influence organizational performance are autocratic and participative leadership. One of the renowned participative leaders is James Lentz the chief executive officer (CEO) of Toyota North America. On the other hand, one of the prominent autocratic leaders was Steve Jobs the former chief executive officer of Apple Incorporated. This article will discuss the leadership qualities of the two leaders and their effectiveness.

Overview of the Leaders

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs exuded various qualities as an autocratic leader. According to Sonnenfeld (2013), Jobs was a visionary leader who ensured that employees embraced his vision. Jobs believed in realizing organizational goals at his pace. His authoritarian leadership style ensured that employees channeled their energy to organizational goals. Indeed, Apple would have not achieved its present success without Jobs’ authoritarian leadership. Employees always felt pressured to accomplish organizational goals. Sonnenfeld (2013) holds that Jobs exuded the quality of risk taking. Jobs “forced the employees to focus on the production of great technological products” (Sonnenfeld, 2013, p. 61). Sonnenfeld (2013) maintains that Jobs’ success did not emanate from his charisma but the risk-taking trait. As per Sonnenfeld (2013), Jobs was a demanding perfectionist. He believed in the realization of any dream and could stand for nothing less.

James Lentz

James Lentz displayed many qualities of a participative leader. According to Huang, Iun, Liu, and Gong (2009), he is open to suggestions. He involves managers and other employees in decision-making. James acknowledges the presence of numerous approaches that could facilitate the success of Toyota Company. Consequently, he welcomes workers to give suggestions on leadership issues. James is ever involved in the daily operations of the company. He always comes out to defend the company in times of crisis (Huang et al., 2009). For instance, when Toyota Company recalled millions of cars, James came out to defend the company. He responded to customers’ complaints and reassured them that the company was doing all it could to resolve the problem.

Most Effective Leader

Steve Jobs was the most successful leader of the two. Through autocratic leadership, Jobs managed to influence employees to rally behind his vision. He ensured that workers bought into his ideas. Eventually, he was able to create a “high purpose for the company that excited Apple employees” (Sonnenfeld, 2013, p. 65). Jobs built an excellent rapport with staff. In spite of his authoritarian leadership, employees believed in his abilities. He was exceptional in promotion and product design.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Steve Jobs

One of Jobs’ strengths was the obsession for product distinction. The company manufactured innovative iPhones and computers due to Jobs’ demand for stylish design and simplicity. Allio (2013) maintains that Jobs was exceedingly engaged in the details, particularly regarding the products and how they were promoted. Jobs had the ability to set high goals and mobilize employees to achieve them. During his tenure, the company came up with many hardware and software.

Allio (2013) argues that Jobs was an authoritarian leader who took acclaim for other people’s ideas. Jobs would at times downplay ideas from other people but later modify them to appear as his. His demand for perfection instilled fear amid the employees making it hard for them to exploit their potential fully.

Strengths and Weaknesses of James Lentz

One of the strengths of James Lentz was his capacity to enhance productivity. He allowed employees to participate in decision-making. It boosted their morale leading to increased productivity (Gao & Low, 2014). Lentz was experienced in crisis management. He helped to salvage the image of Toyota Company during the recall crisis.

One of Lentz’s weaknesses was the inability to make fast decisions. He could not make decisions without involving the management. As a result, he took the time to authorize recall of the damaged cars. The delay affected the company’s reputation. Gao and Low (2014) claim that Lentz’s leadership style was prone to diluted expertise. Participation of unskilled workers in decision-making contributed to the recall crisis.

Application of one Leadership Style

Jobs and Lentz’s occupations can be handled better through autocratic leadership. The chief executive officer’s position requires making substantial decisions. A leader who relies on other stakeholders for decision making encounters challenges in making responsible decisions due to influence from third parties.


The leadership style that an organizational head uses determines the success or failure of an organization. Participative and autocratic leadership styles are prevalent in the contemporary organizations. James Lentz and Steve Jobs are among leaders who observed participative and authoritarian leadership styles respectively. Jobs was a visionary leader who compelled employees to support his ideas. On the other hand, Lentz always incorporates the views of other workers in decision-making. Jobs was the most efficient leader as he managed to convince employees to rally behind his vision.


Allio, R. (2013). Leaders and leadership – Many theories, but what advice is reliable? Strategy & Leadership, 41(1), 4-14.

Gao, S., & Low, S. (2014). The Toyota way problem-solving model: Lessons for large Chinese construction firms. International Journal of Construction Management, 13(1), 79-103.

Huang, X., Iun, J., Liu, A., & Gong, Y. (2009). Does participative leadership enhance work performance by inducing empowerment or trust? The differential effects on managerial and non-managerial subordinates. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(1), 122-143.

Sonnenfeld, J. (2013). Steve Jobs’ immortal quest and heroic persona. Journal of Business and Management, 19(1), 59-68.

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