Much has been made of Steve Jobs’s aggressive and demanding personality. As the head of perhaps one of the mist successful corporate turnarounds in the 20th century, Steve Jobs has always been credited for the leadership role that he has played and the motivational strategies that he has employed. There are many management tactics that Steve Jobs credits for the success of Apple but what stands out the most is the manner by which Steve Jobs was able to motivate his employees in such a way that they were looking forward to going to work and contributing to the continued success of the company (Quittner 75).
While Steve Jobs has been widely credited as one of the most aggressive egotists in Silicon Valley, there is denying the fact that he also has an unrivaled track record when it comes to pulling development teams through start-up hell. The monomaniacal zeal and charisma that Steve Jobs has in his management style still makes many people want to work for him and contribute to the successes of his company (Langer 84).
The management style of Steve Jobs is characterized as at most as charismatic (Langer 85). The invaluable ability of Jobs during uncertain and anxious times to dispel feelings of ambiguity is what has made him highly successful. With the exception of grief, there is no feeling more emotionally disruptive than the helplessness induced by not having a sense of direction or purpose in life. And the “reality distortion field” that leaders like Jobs bring to ambiguous times is just what the management doctor ordered.
Another key aspect of his management style is his demand for perfection, not only from himself but from the other members of the company as well. Steve Jobs is noted for being unable to stand by if someone is going in what he considers the wrong direction. The sadistic perfectionism that characterizes the management style of Steve Jobs has kept Apple ahead of the curve time after time; from the adoption of USB, to consumer digital movie-editing, to wide-spread use of DVD burners, to making portable music players a must-have, to online music downloads. His style of management and his ability to accurately predict trends makes him more than just a valuable industry leader; it almost guarantees that those who pay attention will reap the profits of his predictions.
While his management style of being able to bring the best (or the most according to certain articles) out of his employees has brought Apple to where it is right now, there are also weaknesses to using this type of management style.
Perhaps the most obvious weakness is the fact that the intensity of Steve Jobs cannot be matched by his employees and those who are not able to keep up with him soon find themselves fired (Young 1). The management style of Jobs is in motivating people to produce and to be perfect but it also has a downside since those who are unable to do so are released, so to speak. From a management perspective, it is a systematic weeding out of all employees that are seen as unfit to work amidst the fast paced and highly competitive field of consumer electronics. While most newspaper reports and accounts speak of how Steve Jobs has created a better working environment at most of his corporations, there is also another side which isn’t shown. Those who disagree with his management style are no longer with the company to complain about it (Young 3).
The management style of Steve Jobs is characterized by a strong and willful leadership that expects the most out of all of his employees. While there have been many advantages and the case of Apple is one of them, a management style such as that cannot be sustained over prolonged periods because it does not factor in the development of the employees. It is analogous to a wine press that squeezes all the juice out and discards the empty fruit. For Jobs to continue to be successful he must slow down the pace and build better relationships with his employees.
Langer, Andy, “The God of Music? If Apple’s Brash and Bold New Digital-Music Venture Works, That’s Pretty Much What He’ll Be: A Conversation with Steve Jobs,” Esquire, July 2003, pp. 82–85.
Quittner, Josh, “Steve Jobs: The Fountain of Fresh Ideas,” Time, April 26, 2004, p. 75.
Young, Jeffrey S and Simon, William L iCon – Steve Jobs: the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, Wiley, ISBN 0471 720 836 published 25 May.