Steve Jobs – Transformational Leader
Jobs was fittingly named Fortune’s CEO of the Decade in 2009. A decade ago, after witnessing the almost complete collapse of the music industry which I came to know intimately through my years of work with the biggest record labels in the world, I witnessed the pure genius of Apple’s Steve Jobs as he transformed the way in which we buy and sell music in the digital realm.
Here was a man whose primary industry is computing but clearly possessed abilities far beyond those of the failing record labels to recognize the music industrys value chain and the major shift occurring in its fundamental structure as a result of the emerging digital technologies. With his launch of the iTunes music software in 2001, the iPod music player, the subsequent online store in 2002 combined with tough negotiating with major labels he managed to deliver a clear message that engaged the commerce of music once again. In my most honest personal opinion, without question, Steve Job’s saved the music industry.
While the unsettled state of the music industry still prevails, Steve Job’s has made it possible for those remaining musical soldiers to envision new business opportunities that can combine the best elements of the old model with new digital channels and a ew value chain that is highly independent and dialectical. I truly admire Steve’s brilliance and ability to handle complex problems, like the music industrys, by focusing on the heart of the challenge at hand. How does one transform a near bankrupt company to a globally dominant and influential power?
This goal, at its core, is a complex and incredibly challenging prospect to consider even for a computer expert. However, Jobs eagerly met a similar challenge in 1997 when he returned to Apple after his dismissal in 1985. Steve systematically started rusted and would form the centre of the company for more than a decade. He then restructured a new product line that would provide an elegantly cool and newly sophisticated alternative to the already familiar business focused Dell or IBM PC. The iMac, a breakthrough all-in-one computer with monitor attached marked the dawn of a new computing frontier and Apple’s return.
Its high price along with drastic cost cut backs allowed Jobs to build enough cash to repair Apple’s balance sheet and prepare the company for bigger and bolder investments in the future. His approach of tabilizing Apple’s foundation and preparing it for an excitingly newer and more profitable future is one approach that he uses for any venture. Whether he is remaking the music industry, movie industry or smartphone industry he always tackles the problem of the matter at its core and rebuilds the business structure from the inside out.
Even when Apple’s stock prices plummeted after missing its financial targets in 2000, it hardly mattered because Steve had already laid the vital ground work for Apple’s transformation. Jobs’ transformational leadership is the key o Apple’s long-term strategic growth and sustainability. Steve Jobs leadership qualities come from a place of personal power. He is an expert in his original field of computing and referent in his celebrity status and admirable air. His rare approach to business is what makes him stand out from your average CEO.
His attire is famously unconventional to the point that his wardrobe seems to only consist of multiple pairs of Levi’s 501 blue Jeans, black long-sleeved mock turtlenecks and Reebok sneakers. His quirkiness and unmistakeable design tastes are loved worldwide and mirrored in popular culture. He slums around with pop music stars and yet holds his own as a born showman. If youVe ever seen one of his famed key note speeches you will agree that he has the qualities of an illusionist and is a spot-on perfectionist.
All of his uniquely charismatic qualities contribute a great deal to his lore and provide an intriguing backdrop to the hard work and innovation that occurs behind the walls of Apple. Jobs charisma is a key aspect to his leadership. He inspires enthusiasm of his employees to achieve more by doing the seemingly impossible. His charisma also inspires customers to buy Apple products. Jobs even with all of his quirks, is unmistakably all about business and ensures that his managers, team leaders and designers fully understand what the Apple brand signifies.
If anyone needs to know what Apple stands for, one only need understand Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple. His original youthful vision for Apple still remains today, driven by his first love to which he returned to be an ambassador of cool and be a positive influence of change in the world. Apple is the symbol for the infinite imagination of youth and an unstoppable innovative focus. It is the symbol or onsumers. My own personal experience with the Apple brand goes back to my first Power PC that I used in conjunction with music creation software.
At the time most of the top producers, songwriters and programming engineers in the music industry agreed that Apple was the better platform for music creation over PC. When a client or novice would ask why, our answer would always center on the point that Apple’s architecture was more stable than PC. Even though this answer was a valid argument secretly I and my colleagues all knew the real reason why we bought Macs; Apple was ll about “cool”, which was wholly in line with our feeling and passion for creating music.
Apple was an inspiration for us to be the best at what we did and to strive for perfection. I think we all, in one way or another, desire to be the best at what we do and seek inspiration that can spark our cause. Steve Jobs delivers that spark and sets the example through hard work and a “never quit until it is right” commitment to his brand. Steve’s compelling vision for an improved future for Apple is further demonstrated by his ability to successfully challenge the process. When his competitor “zigs”, he “zags”. Instead of trying to make up the PC market share, of which Apple currently owns 10. % globallyl , Jobs decides to build 327 retail stores in eleven countries2, make up 73% of the U. S. MP3 player market, become the undisputed leader in mobile phone innovation topping the global smartphone market share at 18. 5%3 and take 78% of the global tablet market share in 20114. Going back to 1997 when Apple’s future was unclear any other red blooded American CEO would have done the more apparent thing and sold the company. But Jobs turned down not one but two roposals to buy Apple. Jobs friend Ellison was one of the two entities who tried to buy Apple but later became an Apple board member.
Ellison is quoted as saying, “Jobs didn’t like the idea of being second guessed if it looked as if he’d returned simply to make money’. Job’s explanation to Ellison was, “with the moral high ground, he thought he could make decisions more easily and more gracefully’. Jobs set a clear example that money was not as important to him as aligning Apple’s moral principles with his own. In so doing Jobs could more easily rally his troops behind his uthority decisions whereby allowing the transformational process to happen at a faster rate and more unified manner.
Jobs’ enthusiasm for his company and belief in his capabilities set a prime example that fuelled Apple’s growth and success. After CEO Michael Dell of Dell Computers began a war of words at the Gartner Symposium in 1997 during Apple’s troubled period, stating, if he owned Apple he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders”, Jobs then in 2006 responded after Apple’s market capitalization rose above Dell’s with an internal email reading, Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn’t perfect at predicting the future”. Jobs keeps his team members close. They are like his family.
He involves them in the triumphs that come as a result of their hard work, affirming value in his workforce and rousing a competitive drive among in his team. Jobs is very careful to avoid overexposure, limiting his visibility to speaking only to promote his highly popular products. He could have spoken about his 2004 cancer surgery before it occurred but chose to wait until after, and then only in an internal company e-email that was later on released to the press. His six month leave of absence was also told in another internal e-mail with no comment from Steve personally.
The public follows Jobs in part because of his choice to remain out of the public spot light. The media’s frenzied reports and speculations during the months of announcing and selling the first iPhone are a testament to his psychological strategy. His media relations team keeps everyone in Apple’s orbit on a tight leash when it comes to public speaking. The message is the focus at Apple and one of their key business tools. Steve rehearses with his authorized executives line by line the words hat they are to speak and not to speak in public.
He reduces the probability for error even further by utilizing a very small number of executives to communicate the company’s message publicly. Jobs admits that there are an incredible amount of up to 100 individuals reporting directly to him5. By this token, Jobs exemplifies characteristics of an autocratic style leadership approach. The fact that he has so many people reporting directly to him is representative for his desire for total control. In a triumphant return to the public eye in September 2009, Steve Jobs thanked Apple’s chief operating officer Tim Cook for running the company in his absence.
Steve celebrated this achievement in conjunction with his recovery with cancer as the crowd gave them both a standing ovation. Cook is one man who Jobs holds a lot of trust and empowers to do great things for the company. Cook was given authority as acting CEO during Jobs’ leave, with Jobs’ involvement in crucial decision making only when needed. In the grander scheme of Jobs corporate makeup he has instilled a tremendous amount of information regarding company procedures, corporate and oral responsibilities. The question, “What would Steve do? ” is the driving thought among company executives and employees.
Apple’s foundation is very strong because it has been trained by Steve to think like Steve, therefore ensuring optimal results from its members lead by a clear directive. participative leadership. His assertiveness and dominance as a model for his team does not allow much room for empathy or high levels of social skill. He is not one to rely on group-decision or even so much consultative-decision to democratically strive for an agreement or compromise. There is talk that he is even rude in meetings and extremely impatient6. Employees, as a result, tend to not voice their opinion as much and participate in group meetings.
It is most common for a transformational leader to concentrate on building trust however, Apple is known for keeping their future plans hush and only talking about things it has accomplished. So it can be said that Jobs might not seem to exemplify the traits of a transformational leader whom exudes personal encouragement and emotional intelligence. However, based on the fact that Jobs has transformed several ompanies over the years including Pixar which is a success story, bolsters Jobs’ status as a transformational leader. Steve Jobs can be said to be a moral leader who strives to ensure his company’s motives are pure7.
His crackdown on pornographic developers and applications containing pornographic content on iPhones and iPads is one example of his consistent commitment to adhere to a higher moral standard. Even though Jobs realizes that some folks do like porn and they have a right to access it if they wish, he also believes that Apple should be allowed to try and preserve the user experience they envision8. Jobs shot back at critics who opposed his moral position in 2010 when he responded to Ryan Tate’s email, a writer for Gawker. com, when he said miou might care more about porn when you have kids”9.
Steve also believes that it is everyone’s moral right to be free from programs that steal private data and trash user’s batteries. Steve envisions products that will live up to these moral standards and lead the march for what he calls a “revolution”10 (in the digital domain) sighting iPad2 as the flagship product leading the cause. Even though the above moral topics are very important issues that Jobs is doing well t upholding we cannot forget about the current largest moral responsibility society places on massive technology companies like Apple; that being green energy involvement or clean energy practices.