Steve Jobs’ Leadership Style


Any type of business or organization can be a success only if it is run by an influential and skillful leader. A successful leader is able to structure the organization in the way he or she wants. He or she represents the culture and spirit of the company, as well as influences its productivity increase. Consequently, leadership style is one of the most significant attainments of any leader. Therefore, this paper aims to discuss the leadership style of one of the well-known business leaders, his or her vision, self-regard, ability to communicate and inspire trust, as well as his or her use of power, in order to define which abilities and qualities make him or her a decent leader. The leader chosen for discussion is Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was widely known for being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Apple Company, and was often considered to be a genius and a true leader. It is the general idea that he was an extraordinary person who was immensely admired by fans of Apple products and many other people, whose lives were somehow influenced by his products. Moreover, Steve Jobs possessed charisma that influenced his leadership style and resulted in his obvious success. Therefore, Steve Jobs was believed to have a charismatic leadership style, according to Weber’s definition of charismatic leadership, in which he states that a charismatic leader usually exhibits a distinctive behavior in having a vision, being charismatic, intellectually stimulating people who follow him, and inspiring and motivating people to go beyond the limits of expectations. In addition, charismatic leaders constantly look for change and improvement, thus, creating innovation, and influencing progress. All the above mentioned qualities relate to Steve Jobs’ personality and leadership style. Therefore, one can consider Steve Jobs a true charismatic leader and one of the most influential leaders of the 21st century (Isaacson 15).

Vision or Grand Design

True leaders are able to empower people by creating a vision of their organizational purpose. They emphasize the importance of development and creating a “family”, where people could work on achieving the same common purpose. Consequently, employees become much immersed and dedicated to their work in order to achieve the common goal. When a company has a clear sense of its purpose, desired future, and direction, and when such image is widely shared, people are able to feel energized and find their roles in the structure of the company. The shared vision of the future of their company distinguishes between what is positive and what is negative for an organization.  Therefore, vision is particularly significant in developing a leadership style (Conger & Kanungo 156).

Steve Jobs was perceived as a leader, whose idealistic and brilliant vision of “providing computers as a tool to change the world,” drew other extraordinary and talented people to him (Isaacson 17). He was able to create a true “family” of employees who were committed to the company’s success. The main purpose of Apple under his leadership was to bring technological advancements to the masses. This established him as a leader who emphasized the realization of his vision above everything else. Steve Jobs believed that computers were able to bring enjoyment and encourage creativity. Moreover, he considered that with the help of innovation the Apple would easily realize the vision. As a matter of fact, his innovations, from Mac to IPod, made technology accessible to the masses. Therefore, his vision of the company’s purpose was extremely strong (Isaacson 22).  

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Positive Self-regard

Effective leadership is closely related to creative use of one’s self. Successful leaders are aware of their strengths and are able to leverage them. The next element in positive self-regard is connecting skills with discipline, in order to keep developing and working on one’s talents. It is the ability to improve and develop their qualities which make leaders different from followers. The successful deployment of self transforms leadership into the deeply personal business, which is often called self-regard. This term often relates to understanding of strengths and weaknesses of the leader. In order to maintain positive self-regard, every leader should know himself or herself to minimize his or her weaknesses, and emphasize strengths. One more element of self-regard is developing skills with discipline in order to keep developing one’s talents.

Steve Jobs was aware of his weaknesses and strengths, and tried to work on them. Moreover, he connected his leadership skills to discipline in order to develop his employees’ talents. This can be proved by the words from his interview, “My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be (Isaacson 45).” Therefore, many of his employees were afraid of him, as he was very strict and demanding. Steve Jobs wanted people to follow his ideas and expected obedience from them, as working in Apple Company was a core aim of his life. As a matter of fact, Steve Jobs obtained positive self-regard. This can be proven by his constant advancement technologies and gadgets he presented, as he was a true perfectionist in his work. 

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Ability to Communicate

In order to become a successful leader, one needs to have an ability to communicate with his or her followers. Therefore, the impact of communication cannot be exaggerated. With regards to inspiring and motivating people in order to perform beyond expectations, Steve Jobs tried to stimulate creativity to help employees overcome their fears and challenged them to use new solutions to problems. He used the means of direct and indirect communication in order to keep people updated about the most recent changes and plans. Steve Jobs also tried to challenge his employees by inspiring speeches every time he came up with a new progressive idea, whether it was Mac or IPod. The idea of his successful communication can be drawn from the fact when he firstly presented a project of iPod to his workers, they were rather apprehensive about its future success, and many of them refused to work on this project. However, Steve Jobs persuaded them that the project will gain popularity and inspired them to work on it.

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Ability to Inspire Trust

According to Conger and Kanungo (1998), one of the most crucial in employer-employees relations is trust. Trust is the contract between the two sides, where one is holding oneself to account, and is led by strong ethical actions. As a matter of fact, leadership only deepens when employees trust their leader and heavily rely on him. The trust largely depends on accountability of the leader, which is related to doing what is right even when no one sees it. Therefore, it is a key point in any successful business, and its availability characterizes the integrity of employees and their leader.

Steve Jobs was considered to be a leader who inspired trust among his followers. Employees trusted Jobs not just because he was the founder of Apple, but because he was an experienced worker who was competent in different areas, especially in marketing and design. The employees saw that Jobs was not driven by his own self-interested needs like many other executives (Isaacson 121). He lived for the vision of this company, and that inspired many of his employees and made him trustworthy. Some scholars and journalists claim that sometimes he was even too strict and arrogant to his employees, but all of his followers knew that it was only for the benefit of their company. Therefore, they trusted his ideas and experience.

Wise Use of Power

It has been asserted that power is the main mover for events and people in the world. One cannot lead effectively without obtaining power. The main aim of a decent leader is not to overuse power and use it judiciously. Many contemporary leaders and leaders in history were notorious about overusing their power, such as Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, etc. Therefore, nowadays they are very criticized for their leadership style, which can be regarded to as totalitarian. The wise use of power is the power of leading in such a way that people do not feel it. As a matter of fact, those leaders who make the most immense contributions use their power wisely. They realize that the best use of power is to help other people achieve their full potential. This use of power is often called humble power, and it is considered to have the most long-term influence on people (Conger & Kanungo 201).

As a matter of fact, Steve Jobs was often criticized for his methods of using power in managing his company, especially with regards to his employees. His style of using power was often described as autocratic, as he mostly relied on his own decisions and intuition. Therefore, this style is not widely embraced by scientists who consider liberal approach to be the best style of managing employees. In fact, Steve Jobs used a Machiavellian approach, where the purpose justifies the means of attaining it. Therefore, some journalists claim that sometimes he was even too strict and arrogant to his employees, although all of his followers knew that it was only for the benefit of the company (Isaacson 256). Despite his autocratic use of power, one could see that the power was not his main driving force like it was for Hitler or any other totalitarian leader. Power was only a means of achieving success for the Apple Company. Although Jobs failed to apply the main principles of management in his leadership, he was a humble and genius person with an open mind, who managed to achieve immense results and bring in innovative ideas into the market. 


In conclusion, Steve Jobs was a well-known leader of the previous days who represents charismatic leadership style due to his extraordinary personality and innovative ideas. His main strengths were his clear vision of the Company, which was to bring technological advancements to people, his ability to communicate, and his ability to inspire trust, due to his experience and creative ideas. Despite some criticism of his use of power, he still remains a perfect example of a charismatic business leader of the 21st century, and advancements and ideas of his followers are yet to surprise the world. 

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