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Steve Jobs and Apple

Introduction

The twenty-first century is the age of new beginnings and achievements. The modern world has opened its possibilities to thousands of exceptional individuals who have become creators, entrepreneurs, developers, role models and most importantly leaders. Steve Jobs was one of such opportunists. Truly, many people perceive him as a person who saw the opportunities of the age of technology clearly. For many start-up entrepreneurs, his managerial practices have become a genuine guide for success. The leadership approach that he used to connect Apple’s products to every customer was an astonishing and creative idea. Such creativity and a “clear vision of tomorrow” were things that practically changed the company. Furthermore, thanks to his motivation and working strategy based on the perfection of the company, the latter has turned into one of the world’s well-known and appreciated organizations. His desire for perfection, expressed in all of the Apple products, has influenced the lives of millions of people. Certainly, it is right to say that Jobs was an innovative leader who possessed the features to motivate, enforce, influence and establish an innovation-oriented vision among people with whom he worked. Without Jobs and his effective leadership style, the word “apple” would have had more in common with the fruit tree than with the world known brand.

Leadership Style of Steve Jobs

The leadership style of Steve Jobs is quite an interesting one. In general, it can be said that it is somewhat a mix of different approaches of influencing, motivating and driving the company forward. Steve Jobs was partly a visionary leader, meaning that he put great efforts during his work to set a particular direction of the company. It is noticeable analyzing the case of the establishment of the Pixar Animation Studio in the 1980’s and the changing of the unstable environment and the goals of Apple Computers when Jobs returned to the company in the beginning of the 1990’s (Thomke & Feinberg, 2012). Jobs established and enforced a general vision of the company to be unique and incredible as compared to other competitors and in the eyes of potential customers. To achieve the desired goals, the famous SEO had always influenced his employees, no matter what position they had, to achieve the best results and nothing less. Such practices are quite suited to the pacesetting style of leadership, whereby high standards of performance are the most important points. The style of such practices can be defined from the words of Jobs mentioned during an interview in 1983, “We have an environment where excellence is really expected” (McInerney, 2011). Another style that Jobs used quite often was the commanding one. He was known as having a harsh temper and expressing criticism regarding his employees, investors, and sometimes even customers. According to the words of Matthew Powell, an editor form Mac The Magazine, “At Apple he’d [Steve Jobs] been constantly kicking against partners or superiors to get what he wanted, often blaming others when things didn't work out…” (McInerney, 2011). Despite conflicts and problems that arose from this style of leadership, it influenced people in a positive way making them more dedicated to Apple and its products.

The Organizational Structure and Culture of Apple

The organizational structure of Apple has changed for the time of the company’s existence. When Steve Jobs was forced to leave Apple Computers, the general characteristics of the company’s culture changed dramatically into the ones of a typical commercial organization, such as IBM, Samsung and others. Such a type of organizational structure represented ideas of bureaucracy, differentiation of management (many different departments), and the lack of control over all possible operations. Such conditions and the culture that appeared inside Apple at that time brought about negative results to the overall performance of the company, constantly pointing out facts that changes were required. However, everything changed when in the early 1990’s Steve Jobs returned to change and reanimate Apple. His approach that focused on changes in the organizational structure (such as shutting down ineffective projects, simplifying the overall operations of the organization, regrouping departments and enforcing high standards of quality performance of every employee) set patterns of a new cultural atmosphere inside Apple. Steve Jobs enforced the culture of strict accountability on all levels of the organization that promoted constant control and responsibility on the part of every employee (Hurley-Hanson & Giannantonio, 2013). His immediate actions to improve the company included cancelling 70% of projects, moving manufacturing abroad, and reorganizing distribution. Besides, product lines were reduced as well, and a website for direct sales was launched. All of such features complimented the new vision of the company being the unity of simplicity and functionality of products and performance (Toma & Marinescu, 2013).

The Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Steve Jobs Performance

During the 1990’s, when Steve Jobs was working on the development of Pixar Animation Studio, Apple faced difficulties struggling for survival. Only in 1996, when Jobs was reestablished as a CEO, things radically changed, and the company skyrocketed into success. Profits increased greatly, and the brand name became more recognizable for customers. All of this became a reality thanks to swift and appropriate decisions made by Steve Jobs (McInerney, 2011).

One of the basic ideas that he emphasized was teamwork. According to Jobs’ own words, “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people” (Hom, 2013). Perhaps one of his greatest achievements in his work as a CEO of Apple was the establishment of a team-based working environment that promoted the culture at all structural levels inside the organization. Thanks to this strategy, whereby people working together are dependable on and are responsible for motivating each other to do the very best they can, the company still maintains an efficient organizational structure (Toma & Marinescu, 2013).

Practically every individual that has ever considered buying one of the products from the Apple Company knows about Steve Jobs and his “open” presentations of different products. In general, thanks to this PR technic of presenting new products of Apple, the famous CEO has established himself as the “face of the company”. Being an ordinary person, wearing casual clothes and talking in simple words helped Jobs establish a connection with potential customers on an emotional level. It resulted into strong brand loyalty among clients for many years to come. Everything that Steve Jobs did while being the CEO of Apple influenced great masses of people, involving not simply customers but employees and investors as well. His personal determination to do everything perfectly influenced individual employees and set high standards of performance that still stay a crucial feature of the company’s success even after his death (Isaacson, 2012).

The Best Practices of Steve Jobs

Other organizational leaders should consider Steve Jobs as a role model and can use numerous practices that he used as a CEO, for example, bold business experimentations. Surely, doing something new can be risky; however, if the right decisions are made based on the research and good knowledge of the market, such risks can be avoided. A good example of such a risky but successful decision was a move into retail. While all the main competitors where developing their websites and the features they could offer to potential customers, Steve Jobs had decided to create Apple’s personalized stores. The idea focused on “foot traffic”, involving city pedestrians that were curios non-Apple customers. Such a bold move resulted into great returns because the stores were so innovative and unusual that they lured potential customers to explore them. After retail, Jobs also decided to use the possibilities of the World Wide Web and created the well-known iTunes Store and App Store, which were also quite successful projects (Thomke & Feinberg, 2012).

Another practice that other CEOs can consider is the orientation on constant innovations inside the company. It is specifically important for those companies that are involved in the tech industry, where new ideas and products quite often distinguish leaders from other competitors. During his performance at Apple, Steve Jobs influenced his employees, partners, investors and even customers to promote and participate in the development of new products. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, when cellphones were getting more popular and available for greater masses of potential customers, while strengthening the positions of Apple in the computer market, Jobs seriously considered the possibility of entering new markets. It relates to the story of how world-known IPhones came to be. In the market with strong competitors (Nokia, Motorola, Siemens and others) that was constantly changing, Apple introduced its innovational touchscreen devices that completely differed in their form, design and functionality from other similar cellphones. Such a decision to innovate its products had led the company to new markets and established its strong positions there (Toma & Marinescu, 2013).

Another great practice that Steve Jobs used was focus on what potential customers actually required and desired. It is a point that can be seen in practically all of the products of the Apple Company (Hom, 2013). No matter what the customer has, either a Macintosh or an IPad, it is easy to use both of them as they are quite attractive and practical. It is because based on the Steve Jobs leadership style, he pushed the whole company to find not only simply solutions that satisfied one need of the customer, but also to create products that included numerous possibilities, had something of interest for every client and were practical to use (McInerney, 2011).

Conclusion

Truly, it would not be possible for a great company to achieve world success without the leadership of a great individual. Steve Jobs and Apple seem like interchangeable words. The unique leadership style of the innovative CEO imprinted on the company greatly. Thanks to his mix of leadership styles and the general vision that “simplicity equals sophistication” regarding every product and operations, many other industries (music or movies) have developed their business models and opened doors to many new possibilities. Unfortunately, the great CEO passed away. However, his legacy goes on. Apple continues to develop and grow, and the future of the company looks quite promising.

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