Steve Jobs Leadership Essay Example


Steve Jobs is one of the most legendary people that have ever lived. He was the leader and one of the founders of Apple Inc. He left Apple in 1985 to found his company NeXT, which thrived through the years while Apple was performing poorly. His company later merged with Apple and he became its CEO. He used his skills and expertise to improve the performance of the company, which ensured that the company became an international company that was recognised for its high level of performance. I believe that Jobs is a person of interest since years after his death, his legacy lives on. People across the world use and prefer products from Apple Inc., his creation.

Literature Review

The great man theory is a leadership ideology that targets at explaining the source of the ability to lead. According to the model, leaders can only be born but not made. From birth, these people possess outstanding characteristics that help them to rise when they are required. These traits are not dependent on nurture but nature. The supporters of the theory that nurture is responsible for possession of the leadership abilities may question why these traits may not have been portrayed before a certain situation (Winkler, 2010). However, the theory holds that during the time of need, the natural abilities become realized, hence accrediting these individuals the right to possess authority and power.

Transformational leadership theory helps explain how leaders promote change. People in power and authority that embrace this leadership style work towards motivating their followers. They are role models to the workers and are accountable people. They take responsibility for their decisions as they drive the workers towards achieving their vision. The leaders help create an environment that aids in the optimization of the performance of the followers (Winkler, 2010). They easily introduce change due to the charismatic power they hold. Moreover, they can share their vision and goals, and inspire people to work towards attaining them.

One of the theories of change is ADKAR theory. This is a theory that aims at helping leaders identify effective ways of managing change in their organisations by pointing out the weaknesses of the chosen methods of change implementation (Bennett & Bush, 2013, p172). According to the theory, the leader should start by identifying the need for change in his or her organisation as well as the employees’ acknowledgement of this need. Both the leader and the employees should then desire to implement the change in the organisation’s operations. The leader should further ensure that everyone has the knowledge and ability required to implement the change and work after change implementation. The last stage of the change implementation should be identifying ways in which the organisation will permanently adapt the implemented changes.

One of the theories of ethics is deontological theory. According to this theory, human beings have an obligation to carefully consider and weigh their course of action before doing anything. This theory judges the ethical aspect of an action based on the moral expectations of the society (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2013, p115). Therefore, the consequences of any action do not justify any deed. An act can have negative effects on the involved parties and be morally upright while another can have positive effects and be immoral. The ethical theories further include the utilitarian theory, which states that ethical acts are those whose outcome justifies or nullifies them. The outcome is the most important aspect according to this theory (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2013, p115).

Critical Study

Steve Jobs leadership portrayed the great man theory through the way he managed Pixar when he left Apple, and the way he helped the company from crisis. While most people would have felt the lack of urge to move on after being fired from their own companies, Steve Jobs bought Lucasfilm Animation Company and named it Pixar. It made films for organizations such as Disney. As a result, the value of the company increased. Apple later re-employed Jobs, who helped improve the level of invention and its profitability level. Clearly, the leader portrayed an ability to drive the world of entertainment and technology at the same time (Rattner, 2011). He rose to the challenges that faced him, thus left a legacy in the field of leadership and management.

Steve Jobs portrayed the great man theory through his transformational leadership style. He made his followers believe that they could achieve doing the impossible. As a result, they performed beyond what they previously expected. This trait, in Steve Jobs, helped increase the innovation level in the world of technology. Although the Apple CEO may have transformed the technological world, there are questions on whether Steve Jobs was a transformational leader. For example, he did not drive people through sharing his vision. Instead, he used his charismatic power, where he created the urge of approval among the workers (Caroll et al., 2015, p.82).

Steve Jobs’ way of implementing change in Apple Inc. did not completely follow the ADKAR theory. He made changes after identifying areas that required change in the company. For example, when he rejoined the company in 1997, he saw the need to cancel the licensing of the company’s software (Goldman, 2015). He, however, did not involve other parties in the organisation in the decision-making process as is required by the ADKAR change theory. Nevertheless, he managed to keep the change as a permanent part of the company’s culture.

According to the utilitarianism theory, Steve Jobs’ leadership and actions in Apple Inc. were ethical. The performance of the company was enough justification for all his actions within the company since it led to the continued employment of the many people. However, according to the deontology theory, Jobs was not an ethical person. Although he led to the improvement of performance of Apple, he treated his employees badly (Rosoff, 2015). People that worked in Apple under him say that he had the habit of saying mean things to them in public, which demoralised them. Although this pushed employees into working hard his actions were unethical.


Steve Jobs was a leader that made a great impact on Apple Inc. This was mostly due to his strengths such as being able to identify areas that required change, the ability to push employees into achieving what they thought as impossible and being able to build the company’s reputation as a centre for innovation. He however had weaknesses such as treating his employees badly and failing to involve employees in decision making processes. He would have improved his leadership skills by increasing employee engagement in decision making as well as using positive motivational strategies such as rewarding.


Bennett, J. & Bush, M. 2013. Coaching for change. London: Routledge.

Caroll, Brigid, Ford, Jackie, and Taylor, Scott. 2015. Leadership: Contemporary critical perspectives. Boston: Sage.

Goldman, D. 2015. Apple CEO who fired Steve Jobs: ‘I wish I had hired him back’. Available at [Accessed August 28, 2017].

MacKinnon, B. & Fiala, A. 2013. Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues. London: Cengage Learning.

Rattner, Steven, 2011. The ‘great man’ theory of business, Financial Times, Available at <accessed on Aug 28, 2017>

Rosoff, M. 2015. Why Steve Jobs was such a jerk to employees. Available at [Accessed August 28, 2017].

Winkler, I. (2010). Contemporary leadership theories: enhancing the understanding of the complexity, subjectivity and dynamic of leadership. Heidelberg, Physica-Verlag.