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Steve Jobs and Apple

 

Background

The business leader I admire the most and that is a source of my motivation is Steve Jobs. He is my favorite leader because he has a great role in taking the world forward in the era of technology. First, he revolutionized personal computers and then converted mobile phones into smartphones and brought the computer to everyone’s palm. Now his company Apple is one of the highest valued company in the world and is taking part in revolutionizing the technological world. (Entrepreneur.com 2020)

Apart from his role in revolutionizing technology, Steve Jobs was also a great businessman. First, he started Apple with his friend and when he was ousted of the company, he started several successful companies and eventually was hired to lead Apple when it was going down. Steve Jobs brought the company out of trouble and made it one of the most successful companies in the world. So he is a true leader who was not only successful but made his organization and people successful as well through his charismatic leadership. (Entrepreneur.com 2020)

Apple Inc. is the highest valued company in the world and Steve Jobs has the greatest role in bringing such success to the company. It was established in 1977. “The Company designs, manufactures and markets smartphones, personal computers, tablets, wearables and accessories, and sells a variety of related services. “Its major products include iPhone, a line of smartphones that runs on company’s own IOS operating system, MAC, the personal computer line of the company, iPad, the multipurpose tablet of the company, wearables and several services like iCloud, the cloud storage service. Most of these most successful products of the company are the brainchild of Steve Jobs that showed the way to the other technology companies and brought the revolution to the computers and smartphones. (Apple Inc. 10K 2019)

Strategic Leadership and Its Importance for Apple Inc.

Leadership is a vital function for every organization. As a matter of fact, no organization can function without leadership (Aibieyi, 2014). Although leadership can be defined as an act of leading the strategic leadership can be defined, “a manager’s potential to express a strategic vision for the organization, or a part of the organization, and to motivate and persuade others to acquire that vision”. It can also be defined as the utilization of the strategy in the management of the organization’s workers and employees. (managementstudyguide.com, 2020)

Strategic leadership is very important for all organizations at this time and age. However, for a technology company like Apple, it is even more important. This is because the competitive landscape changes very quickly with rapid progress in technological products and services. Apple itself launches a new version of its flagship iPhone every year and tends to update its other products every year as well. In order to maintain a competitive advantage, it needs to foresee the competitive moves and upgrade its products and services in a way that can give it a competitive advantage. In such a scenario, a strategic leader like Steve Jobs is the one that required. He was a strategic leader who challenged the status quo like all strategic thinkers, challenged his own and others’ assumptions, and encouraged different points of view in order to introduce unique products and services to make the company successful. (Schoemaker, Krupp, and Howland, 2013)

Main Approaches to The Study of Leadership

There are three main approaches to the study of leadership. They are as follows;

Qualities are Traits Approach

This approach says that the leaders are born and they cannot be made and that “there are certain qualities that are limited to only leaders which constitute the distinguishing factors between the leader and others.” These particular traits are knowledge, will-power, mental flexibility, physical and emotional stamina, and integrity. (Aibieyi, 2014).

Situational Approach

According to the situational approach, leadership is a product or function of a particular social situation where there is an interaction between the leaders and subordinates. This approach thus of the view that leadership is a situational interaction between the leader and subordinate and cannot have any effect if it is not in interacting with the environment.  (Aibieyi, 2014).

Behavioral Approach

According to this approach, the leader is a passive “because leadership is the possession or the interaction of personality and the social environment is propelled by the virtue of the status.” It focuses on how leaders behave in a particular situation, their leadership styles and how it impacts the performance of the team or group they lead.  (Aibieyi, 2014).

On the careful evaluation of the leadership of Steve Jobs in the case of Apple, the traits approach seems more relevant. This is because Steve jobs started the organization, made it a successful company on the basis of his knowledge, will power, mental flexibility and physical and emotional stamina and that is why he rejoined the organization when the company was in dire need of a leader and was badly going down. He brought in new ideas, products, services and motivated people with his personality. However situational approach can also be attributed somewhat as he guided his team in the particular situation well for collective success, but as the success of the Apple can be attributed to the Charismatic personality of Steve Jobs and his ideas, therefore Trait Approach seems more appropriate.

Role of Leader in Developing Strategy

The role of a leader is very important in developing the strategy of the company and giving it a direction.it not only helps to determine the vision and mission of an organization but also the strategic steps that the organization would take in order to compete effectively in the market. (Saqib, 2012) Without an effective leader or leadership, the company is going to be failed. There are numerous examples of companies in the recent past that failed because the leaders failed to understand the changing market dynamics and new requirements of the market and as a result, the company got bankrupt, like what happened with Kodak or Nokia for example. Apple was also facing a similar fate in 1997 when Steve Jobs joined it again. When the joined the company again in 1997, the company was at the brink of bankruptcy and its strategy was an utter failure. Steve Jobs developed a new strategy for the company that worked. “When he rejoined in 1997, he faced the task of restructuring an organization that was on the brink of bankruptcy. His first order of business: to drop costly projects and streamline the company’s focus. And he did just that with the release of the 1998 iMac. The product sold nearly 800,000 units in the first few months, signaling a major turning point for the company.” (Umoh, 2017)

Leadership Values and Ethics in Driving Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be defined as the broad collection of operating activities and operating practices that an organization develops in its efforts to deal with and create relationships with all its stakeholders and the environment where business is operating.” ( Mostovicz& Kakabadse & Kakabadse, 2009).  Corporate social responsibility although adds value to the company in several ways, however, it does not have instant benefit as other measures like marketing spending can provide. As a result, many companies tend to do the bare minimum when it comes to corporate social responsibility and sustainability. It is basically leadership that takes these decisions and these decisions are taken on the basis of their values and ethics.

The true leaders that have ethical values at heart of whatever they do, know that it is essential to act socially responsible and sustainable manner in order to not only attract and retain customers but also employees. Because such organizations also provide good working conditions for the employees. Moreover, ethical leaders also consider community engagement as an important aspect of conducting business and encourage their employees to volunteer for community service. All this also helpsto build the organizational image as customers like to do business with socially responsible businesses. On the other hand, if leadership of an organization does not consider ethical acts and social work and sustainability as important for the firm, the firm may lose not only important chance to create difference in the community and give back to the society but they also face bad consequences of not having such a policy to the employees not only directly but also because they feel they are creating difference positively in the society and giving back to the society.

References

Apple Inc. 10K (2019). SEC Fillings Annual Report. [Online]. Available at: http://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0000320193/1a919118-a594-44f3-92f0-4ecca47b1a7d.pdf [28 January, 2020]

Aibieyi, S. (2014). Approaches, Skills And Styles Of Leadership In Organizations. [Online]. Review of Public Administration and Management Vol. 3, No. 5, July 2014 ISSN: 2315-7844. Available at: https://www.arabianjbmr.com/pdfs/RPAM_VOL_3_5/6.pdf [26 January, 2020]

Entrepreneur.com (2020). Steve Jobs: An Extraordinary Career. [Online] Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197538 [28 January, 2020]

managementstudyguide.com (2020). Strategic Leadership – Definition and Qualities of a Strategic Leader. [Online] Available at: https://www.managementstudyguide.com/strategic-leadership.htm [28 January, 2020]

Schoemaker, P., Krupp, S., and Howland, S. (2013). Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills. [Online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2013/01/strategic-leadership-the-esssential-skills [28 January, 2020]

Umoh, R. (2017). How Apple’s success can be traced to Steve Jobs. [Online] Cnbc.com. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/13/how-apples-success-can-be-traced-to-steve-jobs.html [28 January, 2020]

Saqib, S. (2012). The Role of Leadership in Strategy Formulation and Implementation. [Online] International Journal of Management & Organizational studies. Volume 1. 32. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284601403_The_Role_of_Leadership_in_Strategy_Formulation_and_Implementation [28 January, 2020]

Mostovicz, E. Kakabadse, N., & Kakabadse, A. (2009). CSR: The role of leadership in driving ethical outcomes. [Online].  Governance: The international journal of business in society. 9. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/41312487_CSR_The_role_of_leadership_in_driving_ethical_outcomes 10.1108/14720700910984990. [28 January, 2020]

Hortensia, G. (2017). Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility.[Online]. International conference KNOWLEDGE-BASED ORGANIZATION. 23. 10.1515/kbo-2017-0061. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318733712_Leadership_and_Corporate_Social_Responsibility [28 January, 2020]

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