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Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco in February 24, 1955. He was the chairman and CEO of Apple Computers Inc (Leadership with you, 2011). He founded the company in his parent’s garage, left the company in 1985, returned to the company in 1997 when it was almost near to being declared bankrupt and by the time he died in October 2011, the company was among the world’s most valuable organizations (Isaacson, 2012). During his reign at the company, he transformed the company into a global force which is reckoned by many even today.

He contributed to management development based on how he planned and inspired his employees in the company. He was a focused leader throughout his reign at the Apple Company. As a focused leader, Steve collaborated with the employees on issues that the company would undertake. He would stand in front of a white mark board and ask them (employees) to come up with a list of ten things that the company would do next and then choose on those that he thought were realistic. He used a white board to write the suggestions of the people. He believed in figuring out and concentrating on what the company would want to do when it grew up and filter out the rest as he saw them as stumbling blocks.

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Simplicity was one of his virtues as he believed in the elimination of components, which were unnecessary in achievement of goals. He advocated for simplicity, as opposed to complicating issues in the organization. When iPod was being created in his company, Job did not want to have any buttons on it. This was a difficult task for the engineers of the company working on this project, but this did not make Job to change his mind. This led to the development of the touch based scroll wheel that we use today. Steve believed that profits resulted from making great and innovative products, as well as building a motivated workforce that result to great products. He was motivated by making great products but not profits.

Steve stressed on the importance of caring about what the customers desire and want as opposed to carrying out market research to ascertain what the customers needed. He was quoted as saying “You may inquire from the consumers what they desire and deliver. Once you have delivered, they will definitely ask for more” (Arora, 2012). He always reminded his employees to produce products as if they were making them for their own use since in doing so, they were bound to produce the best. He always encouraged his employees to do whatever they felt was not possible. This motivated them to put in their best and yielded positive results, that is, what they thought was impossible eventually became possible.

Steve strived and advised his employees to be perfect in their undertakings at the company. He even quoted a saying that his father had once told him when they were making a fence in their homestead on the need to produce an overall good product “A true craftsman uses a good piece of wood even for the back of the cabinet against the wall”. Steve was rough with the employees and only worked with the best (“A” players). If something was wrong with any of the employees, Steve told them everything on the face, he regarded this as an aspect of honesty. Although he was rough, he developed loyal and top players who stuck longer in his company than was the case in other companies.

Face to face was the style that Steve preferred when communicating with the employees as opposed to emails, despite being a technology company. He believed that this method of communication encouraged through spontaneous meeting and random discussions to creativity within the organization. He encouraged the interaction of people throughout the company, collaboration and brainstorming as a way of generating new ideas. During meetings, he discouraged presentation using slides, but, instead, encouraged people to think. He was also a strong believer in the formulation of strategies and focusing on their details in order to achieve the goal. Steve did not omit to follow steps to achieve the details as well.

Statement of the problem

Management development is a situation where the management of an organization adopts various processes and grows with the employees. Organizations today are fascinated by Jobs management that led to tremendous results as well as the development of the company’s employees. Some, but not all, aspects of Steve Job leadership are worth emulating. Steve Jobs way of developing managers is not suitable for everyone. This study seeks to analyze Steve Jobs Leadership Style.

Literature review

Management development is the aspect of examining the communications that are present in a company and how it impacts on the employees. It is a part of organization development. According to Stone and Patterson (2005), the study of leadership can be traced back from civilization. The scientific study of great leaders can be traced back from the industrial revolution and the development of great leaders in the 20th century. This era led to the hierarchical view of management with subordinates and top managers. The leaders were viewed as people who had been endowed with great attributes such as self-confidence, enthusiasm, as well as emotional stability. This, generally, placed them at the top of the pyramid in the society (Perruc, 2004).

Leadership is a complex process, and the extent to which it can fully be defined varies with the standards, qualities, and competences that make some organizations successful and others unsuccessful (Dennison et al, 2003). Leadership, as an area of study, has been researching continuously. Researches of the past decades have not, however, exhausted the area of research. Instead of the researches completely studying, all the gaps in leadership, instead new aspects of leadership, have been discovered and areas of further research identified.

To set out the stage on various leadership aspects of Steve Jobs, this study has analyzed the leadership theories and models. Various theories have extensively been used to describe the history of leadership. The theories have evolved from theories that focus more on the leader, to theories that focus on leadership style based on the situation.

The earliest theory was the Great man theories. These theories based their arguments on the fact that leaders were exceptional people in the society. These people were born with certain qualities and they were destined to lead throughout their lives. Until the later parts of the twentieth century, the concept of leadership was seen and thought of as a male undertaking and was passed on from father to son (Leadership Central, 2012). This led to the development of the next theory, which was the Trait theory. However, the theory has established a foundation that human traits make great leaders. Leadership is a science that can be learned. This means that family traits has nothing to do with leadership.

The Great man theory led to the trait theory; people are born with certain characteristics that make them leaders. These qualities are inherited from one generation to the next. Effective leaders have traits that differentiate them from less effective leaders (Management Study Guide, 2012). This theory is based on the model of many leaders both successful and unsuccessful. Their traits are analyzed and used to determine whether a certain leader will be successful or not.

Leader characteristics based theories led to the environmental theories. Behavioral theories are environmental theories that place more emphasis on what leaders do rather than what their qualities are. These theories assume that leaders are made and not born, that is, leadership qualities can be learned but not inherited. These theories provide an avenue for management development as oppose to the traits and the great man theories that restricted leadership to certain people in the society (Changing minds, 2012).

Situational Leadership theory sees leadership as being specific to different environments where it is being exercised. The factors that determine what type of leadership to adopt depend on the competence level and the commitment of the followers. Some organizations require an autocratic type of leadership, while others are more suited with a participative type of leadership. According to this theory, the leadership styles also vary at different levels within the same organization. Leadership skills are applied based on the skill and the maturity level of the employees (Blanchard and Hersey, 2010).

Situational theories are a class of behavioral theories that argue that there is no specific way in which managers should lead, and that their leadership style, which is effective in one situation, may not be effective in others. That is why we have leaders who are successful for a while and become unsuccessful in the suddenly given certain environment. Hence, leaders should change their styles to suit the situation at hand.

Situational theories placed emphasis on the behavior of the followers. Transactional theories are characterized by a transaction made between the leader and the follower that results in a mutual benefit between the concerned parties. According to these theories, people are motivated by punishment and rewards.

Transactional theories are theories that emphasize on the need for mutual relationship in leadership. According to Warrilow (2011), transformational leadership has evolved from the great man, trait, behavioral and situational theories. These theories are about leaders who take and act in the interest of the group. In this theory, the leader motivates his followers and is concerned with the moral and the performance of those whom he leads.

Leadership theories have one thing in common; that is the traits. Leadership theories should guide the development of managers in practice. They are not an end in themselves and hence should not be fully relied upon in the management perspective (James 2011).

Leadership Models

The leadership models assist us to understand why leaders act in the way they do. The four framework approach and the managerial grid are used to explain the leadership models. Four Framework Approach is based on the circumstances, which the manager experiences. Circumstances determine what model is appropriate. This model suggests that leaders can be put into structural human resource, political and symbolic framework.

In the structural framework, managers design and implement structures that are relevant depending on the situation at hand. In the human resource framework, the managers views the employees as being the core assets in the organization and, therefore, responds to their needs and goals so as to gain their loyalty. The political framework outlines leaders who act like political leaders. The political leader understands the political reality of the organization and deals with it, that is, he understands the various groupings in the organization. While the political framework views leadership from a political angle, the symbolic framework views leaders as prophets who have inspirational view of the organization. These leaders use symbols to communicate and to capture the attention of those they lead (Jobe, 2010).

The managerial grid was pioneered by Robert Blake and Jane Mounton in 1960 (Molly, 1998). According to Eersel (2012), the managerial grid model of management outlines five leadership styles that the managers adopt based on their concern for the people they serve, as well as the production. The concern for people relates to the extent to which the managers are interested with the needs of the people they lead before deciding on whether they should accomplishing a specific task. Concern for production, on the other hand, relates to the degree in which managers and leaders value and emphasize the efficiency of the task to be carried out when allocating duties to their subordinates. The five leadership styles in this grid include; country club leadership, produce or perish leadership, improvised leadership, middle of the road leadership and team leadership.

Country club leaders are more concerned with the needs and the feelings of the employees. And they feel that the employees will put in their best in the organization if their needs are taken care of. This style, however, may affect production due to lack of supervision and direct control. Produce or perish leadership style puts more emphasis on the task to be accomplished by the employees than on the employees themselves who will be undertaking the task. Here, the leader sees the needs of the employees as secondary and mostly uses punishment as a way of motivating the employees to put in their best. Impoverished leadership style is adopted by leaders who have a low regard for the employees and the workforce. This may result to a much disorganized organization.

Middle of the road leadership style balances between needs of the people and the work they perform. Such leaders are average as far as the needs of the workforce are concerned as well as tasks they carry out. This may result in moderate motivation and output.

Team leadership style is adopted by leaders who value the workforce and the work they undertake in the organization. In this style, the leaders stress both the importance of the employees and production needs. By motivating employees, the manager is able to promote a team spirit where each team member is motivated and satisfied to put in their best in production.

The team leadership though is the best form of leadership style. However, it is not always applicable in an organization. There are situations that call for a more emphasis on either the employees or the task. For example, if the company is undergoing change, for example, a merger, it is important for managers, in this case, to employ a more emphasis on people than the task. When an organization is faced with an economic hardship or physical risk, on the other hand, managers should have a shorter emphasis on employees needs in order to motivate them. Managers should analyze their leadership style based on the above models and strive for a team leadership style. Using team leadership as the bench mark, they should strive to identify gaps in their current styles and strive to maximize production as well as have a motivated workforce (Zeidan 2009).


Steve Jobs was an unconventional leader who rarely consulted with the employees and who demanded excellence from the workers who he worked with in the company. Steve Jobs was also known for critic and would criticize the mistakes made by his employees directly. The reason why he acted this way on his employees may be attributed to his past experiences in companies, which he worked before as well as his passion to accomplish his vision and achieve the same with the staffs and the people who he worked with. The culture of his company had little understanding of employees’ needs, but was more focused on satisfying needs of the customers. In the company, employees would work on weekends to accomplish tasks (Kar, 2010).

Gaps in Steve Jobs Style of Management

Steve Jobs openly criticized his employees. Employee critics, especially by shouting to them, annoy the workforce not to do their best in the organization (Mclnerney 2011). Interacting with a CEO who shouts at people can be a nightmare for employees who are competent. Job also emphasized on hiring people who were “A” players. This meant that he always worked with the best. With this kind of autocratic management, the “A” players are bound to have a high turnover. This may be detrimental to the organization in terms of always hiring new staffs. He asserted: ”When I hire someone senior, competence is an antenna”.

Notwithstanding critics, Steve Job left a legacy in management development, where he managed to maintain staff loyalty and reduce the turnover compared to other companies. He also taught the employees on the need to be persistent and achieve the impossible (Costello, 2012).

Steve Jobs adopted an Autocratic style of management. Today’s leaders should adopt the Steve Jobs model of management only if they have a clear vision, a time frame, a lot of prior and personal knowledge in the field of management and numerous opportunities if they are to succeed in their undertakings. This style, however, is bond to leave dissatisfied employees in their organizations.

Managers should avoid copying the Steve Jobs style of management, thinking that it will lead to successful organizations like Apple Inc. In reality, Steve Jobs did not succeed because of the management style he adopted but rather because he was a focused leader and also the fact that he had good marketing skills. Steve Jobs did not recognize failures and he always worked with his employees to achieve the impossible. The fact that he did not recognize failures made him even stronger in his management career.

The bibliography

The bibliography that formed the foundation of this research outlines the lessons of Steve Jobs. The article, after all, fails to give the insight on the negative aspect of his management style. Though he excelled and managed to propel Apple to one of the world’s icons, Steve was without mistakes in his style of management.


Steve Jobs is a transformational leader who inspires and takes the necessary steps to ensure that the change is felt in his organization. He has managed to drive the company to even greater heights, and this is an indication that he is a great inspiration to current and future leaders.

Further Research

The study of management development as laid down by Steve Jobs should not end up in this study. It is important to carry out further research on Steve Jobs Management and the relation with the financial status of the company he managed. The financial performance of the company should be studied and related to the management style adopted by Steve Jobs in the entire time he led the company. The study set to address the gaps of Steve Jobs Management style and identify the gaps on his aspect of management as well as provide insightful analysis on how to emulate him in leadership.


Reading about managers who excelled in their careers, it is important to critically analyze their other factors that led to their success apart from their approach. Factors such as the operating environment, the profit margin and the level of competition may have led to their success. Jobs marketing skills and personal knowledge greatly contributed to his success as a manager. It is important to recognize that as much as we have Steve Jobs having a royal workforce despite shouting at them, other organizations have reduced productivity doing the same, as well as the shareholders value.

Managers should focus on being strategic, setting ambitious and challenging goals, encouraging the growth of others, and being approachable. This is the winning strategy that has been proven in most organizations.

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