Behavioral Leadership Style of Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs was an executive, innovator and computer designer. He is recognized for his significant contribution to computer software industry. Jobs was well-established business leader admired by many people across the globe. He was born in California State in the United States on February 24, 1955. Through the support of his family, Jobs developed an interest in engineering and computer at a very young age. After his first semester, he dropped out of college and focus on computer innovations.  Isaacson (2012) explains that at the age 21 Jobs and his friend Wozniak began Apple Computer Company with an investment of 1, 300 dollars. Jobs headed the marketing department. Later they developed Apple II which recorded increased sales of 700 percent. As the previous CEO of the Pixar Animation Studios and the Apple Computers co-founder, Jobs developed the animation and computer industries that earned about 10.2 billion dollars in fortune before his death (Isaacson, 2012). Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and received treatment for eight years. At the age of 56, Jobs died on 5, October 2011 at Calif.

Behavioral Leadership Style Practiced

Leadership theories describe effective leadership as that includes personal traits depending on the different situation to be able to build sound relationships with their followers. Successful leaders like Steve Jobs established actions taxonomy and recognized wider designs that pointed out diverse leadership styles.  The success of Apple Company is attributed to Job’s great leadership style (Isaacson, 2012). His leadership style was related to both transformational and transactional systems.


There are different types of behavioral leadership styles practiced by leaders depending on business needs and organizational structure. Laissez-Faire leadership style does not exercise direct supervision. Therefore, it is mostly used in organizations with highly trained and experienced employees who need little supervision. Autocratic is another method practiced by managers. The style permits leaders to make decisions without consultation or input of their cohorts.  Autocratic leaders benefits organizations which need close management. Participation or democratic style respect the team’s input, but the participative leader makes the final decisions. It is argued that this leadership style improves employees’ motivation. On the same note, participative leadership helps in enacting changes in an organization without opposition from employees.

Transactional is behavioral leadership style where managers use extrinsic and intrinsic rewards or punishment to motivate their employees based on performance outcomes (Sadeghi & Pihie, 2012).  This leadership involves setting predetermined objectives, and team members approve to follow the manager’s directions in undertaking the goals of the organization. Citing Sadeghi and Pihie (2012), leaders hold the authority to assess results and correct employees through training when they fail to accomplish the goals. Transactional leadership style is mostly practiced by businesses to increase staff engagement and job satisfaction.

Transformational style involves levels of communication from all management categories to achieve objectives. Leaders influence workers to enhance efficiency and productivity through high visibility and communication. The style entails involving administration to delegate tasks to employees. Steve Jobs used a both transactional and transformational leadership styles. Isaacson (2012) assert that he was vision oriented, charismatic, inspiring, motivating and stimulated intellectual development on his employees to achieve advanced levels of effectiveness. Charismatic personality was the aspect that categorized Jobs as a transformational and transactional leader. According to Isaacson (2012), the success of Apple was due to Jobs coaching trait and use of right word to encourage employees. Besides, he had an evangelic zeal to make people visualize the products’ future potentials.  Many employees in Apple experience Jobs perfectionist leadership character. Most workers claimed that he was extremely ambitious.

Additionally, transformational style encompasses the capability of the leader to enact changes and inspire innovation on workers. The transformational trait in Jobs is seen in his contribution and effort to create a digital technology.  During his leadership in Apple, Jobs motivated employees to generate new ideas. Besides, he was in the front line of nurturing the ideas and investing in changing the ideas in a valuable product (Gio & Rashad, 2015). Steve Hawkins argued that Apple employees were more engaged and worked to their best performance and capabilities because they wanted to satisfy Jobs perfectionism along with ambitions.

According to Gio and Rashad (2015), Steve Jobs leadership style changed Apple organization through producing quality computers that were highly priced and satisfied customers’ needs and preferences. The high-quality computer products were achieved through Jobs’ good management style. Review from Apple workplace culture illustrates that he controlled even the little elements of the company such as the company bus design. Gio and Rashad (2015) report showed that Jobs established a strict accountability culture at all company levels. He ensured that Apple took end-to-end responsibilities for customer experience, this provided an excellent business model which was the recipe for Apple’s success in the market. When Jobs’ team produced the first Macintosh, his priority was to design a great product. He never focused on cost trade-offs or profit maximization. Therefore, this behavior helped in the success of Apple Company (Isaacson, 2012). Together with involving employees in every stage of innovations, Jobs pushed workers to accomplish the impossible.  For that reason, and reviews provided by different authors, Steve was a transformational leader and less of transactional.

Effective Leadership

Effective leadership is the primary element of a good leader. Effective leaders prioritize on self-assessment. They periodically evaluate their shortcomings and personal strength. The assessment allows managers to improve their abilities. Moreover, effective leaders understand their organization and are responsive to the needs of their group (Isaacson, 2012). Clear and good communication is a trait used by managers to build trust within a team and understand the goals and values of every worker. It is argued that for one to become an effective leader, they must concentrate on areas such as risk taking, communication, motivating teams, and goals setting and establishing a vision.

Effective leadership is measured based on performance, innovative abilities, improved profitability, a better workplace culture and active involvement in the organization. Steve Jobs had a combination of those attributes and skills. Isaacson (2012) asserts that through his tenacity and vision, Jobs innovated computer products that even customers did not recognize they required. He understood the organization teams well and communicated the goals. Additionally, he shared opinions and ideas with his teams. His colleges argued that Jobs was eager to participate in most company development debate to ensure perfection of details.  In an interview, Jobs stated that his objective as a leader was to make his team better every day by pushing and encouraging them by setting up a bold vision (Isaacson, 2012). Also, he communicated clearly to his team because he was a perfectionist. Moreover, Jobs’ effective leadership contributed to the success of Apple.

Steve Jobs’ leadership style is not the best. Therefore, it requires some modifications. His style can be improved though encouraging group work and involving the team in decision making. Consequently, he was very strict and controlling, which is likely to affect employee engagement. Therefore, it can be developed through understanding the needs of the team.



Gio, H. Y., & Rashad, Y. T. (2015). The Unconventional Leadership of Corporate Leaders in the 21st Century. Global Journal of Management and Business Research, 15(4), 65-70.

Isaacson, W. (2012). The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs. Harvard business review, 90(4), 92-102.

Sadeghi, A., & Pihie, Z. A. L. (2012). Transformational leadership and its predictive effects on leadership effectiveness. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(7), 186-197.

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