Leadership and Innovation: Charismatic and Innovative Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple Inc
October 31, 2011 2 Comments
During the 2007 and 2008 Global financial crisis, Steve Paul Jobs, the now late co-founder of Apple Inc issued a statement to his employees at Apple’s International corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California. In quotes, he is remembered as saying, “We are in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. However, we are determined to continue to make Apple the most innovative company in the world while increasing shareholder wealth. While hundreds of companies are firing employees, we have no intention of doing so. We will overcome this challenging economic environment and remain a strong innovative company. While others will decrease spending, we will increase spending on R&D and come out way ahead of our competition in the long run”
(Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc, Todd A. Finkle, Michael L. Mallin, Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, Volume 16, Number 7, 2010.)
This article takes a look at the leadership, innovation and culture, the vision and the relationship that Steve Paul Jobs created at Apple Inc over the past decade. Apple Inc was once a failing electronics company with share prices as low as $2. But this was before Steve Jobs was invited back to Apple and reinstated as CEO of the then failing company. Steve Jobs was a very aggressive business man and he had an intellectual and methodical approach to marketing. He had great confidence in himself, a controlling personality and an eye for detail, but even more, he was a perfectionist. It was these characteristics and traits that lead him to take Apple to the forefront of technology with cutting edge products like the IMac, the IPod, the Iphone and the Ipad. Under his charismatic leadership, he embedded a culture and created a following among employees of Apple and customers alike. This loyal following was the result of value congruence between himself and his employees. Jobs and his employees shared common values and a common vision for Apple and Jobs was able to keep this vision alive through his skill as a good communicator and his ability to motivate, support and reward his employees. He was able to guide Apple by using different styles of leadership. As a charismatic leader, Jobs was able to communicate what a product should do and look like. He was able to energize and accelerate innovation processes and the release of new products to the market.
As a result of Steve Jobs charismatic and innovative leadership, the Ipad was born and filled a technological gap in the lives of every household that we didn’t know existed. As a strategic leader, Steve Jobs used his power and the cash reserves of Apple to innovate, and commit employees to a culture of innovation. During his leadership, Apples stock price climbed to $200 by 2007, slipped to $90 in 2008 due to the global recession, but by 2011, the stock price had climbed back up to a phenomenal $480. Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple entered into an agreement with rivals Microsoft, and the result of this was an increase in sales of Apples Mac. Other strategic moves that were initiated under his leadership were the “store within a store concept” and the partnership with CompUSA. Jobs reduced costs by outsourcing the manufacturing of most hardware components. In 2007, Apple launched the Iphone with AT&T in an agreement that gains Apple 10% revenue from internet subscriptions. Steve Jobs was one of the most innovative leaders of our time and he was also one of the most charismatic. He understood the importance of Leadership, Innovation and value congruence as a CEO, and he understood the importance of sharing his vision with his employees and the rest of the world. As result, Apple and Steve Jobs, through the IPod has changed the way we listen to music, through the Iphone has changed the way we communicate, and through the Ipad has changed the way we see the rest of the world.
Innovation can be defined as a marketable invention: the act of generating an idea and transforming it into a new product, service, solution, or business model that can be sold to customers. (Leadership and Innovation: Learning from the Best, Roland Bel, 2010 Wiley Periodical, Inc) Apples former CEO was one of the people that meet this definition through the products that he created. Steve was able to excel on apparently conflicting skills of creativity and discipline. As an Innovative leader at Apple Inc, Jobs was able to accept risk, uncertainty and failures. He had great degree of passion for electronics and his products. He proactively searched for external technologies and ideas, and this can be seen in the alliances that he formed with Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AT & T and a list of other companies. Jobs didn’t just have the courage to startup a project or develop a new product; he also had the courage to stop projects that were not productive. He had a talent for attracting innovators and guiding winning teams. As an effective innovation leader, Steve Jobs ensured that the organization secured its desired outcomes by creating win-win situations that rewarded the right behaviors and performances. (Value Congruence and charismatic Leadership in CEO- Top Manager Relationships: An Empirical Investigation, Sefa Hayibor, Bradley R. Agle, Greg J. Sears, Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, Andrew Ward, Springer 2011.) Apples dominance of the Tablet Pc market has been so strong that rival companies like HP have had to pull out of the Tablet PC market. The Only Company to launch a challenge to Apples Ipad and Ipad 2 in 2011 is Amazon, with its smaller sized and lighter Tablet Pc, which sells for half the price of Apples Ipad. Competition in the Tablet PC market has been so fierce that HP has had to sell over its version of the Tablet PC to its employees at $99, compared to Apples $420 for the Ipad. Sadly, Steve Paul Jobs passed away in October 2011 at the age of 56 after battling pancreatic cancer for over 7 years. The Implications of his work and now his death and departure from apple are immense. However, he has instilled a culture of charisma and innovation in his employees and has brought the world together through the products that he created with so much passion.