Being Apple: Steve Jobs – and using the topics of Power & Politics and Leadership

Every leader’s behavior is analyzed by using three aspects of governance: power, politics, and leadership. Power and politics are mostly associated with controlling subjects and dictating their behavior (Northouse, 2015). Leadership needs to ensure that employees work productively in the organization. Leaders can be either bad or good; however, the extent varies depending on different people’s perspectives on which behavioral patterns are acceptable for a leader. This paper aims to analyze Steve Jobs’ leadership and explain the extent to which he was a bad or good leader.

From the case study, Jobs is portrayed as a very controversial man. He exhibits the traits of a good leader as well as one that is absorbed by the powers that he has over the employees. The way Jobs influenced the will and decisions of his employees said much about his dictatorial behavior. The fact that he did not take any contradicting opinion shows how he disregarded diverging opinions. Therefore, some people can assume that he is bad leader due to his perseverance. Job’s charismatic personality made the employees feel important by creating a healthy environment and referring to them as “A” players (Northouse, 2015). Those who use this angle to judge his leadership would see conclude that he was a good leader. Jobs was a visionary leader who must have ensured that work was done and completed in the best way possible. Therefore, a leader must be strict to get work done and adopt a polite and caring approach to get his employees to work.

Several theories of power, politics, and leadership can support the analysis of Jobs’ leadership style, which include contingency theory, trait theory, behavioral theory, and cultural power dynamics theory (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Contingency theory entails that there is no single way in which a leader should lead his people. The theory implies that a leader can adopt a technique that will give the best result at in different situations (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Jobs did not follow one way of leading. In some cases, he was brutal to his employees and made them feel worthless, and at times he made them feel encouraged. Several people stated that working for him was both a terrifying and exciting experience. Some employees said that he would make them feel bad about themselves if he felt that their performance was below his standards. Moreover, positional power dynamics support the contingency theory of leadership. This theory states that power is given to an individual who then becomes the figure of authority by his position (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Being a founder of the company and the CEO made Jobs arrogant and intolerant to any conflicting opinions. His fixation on achievement made him reach the goals that people considered ludicrous and impossible. It was revealed that Jobs told his employees that they were launching what they thought was impossible to launch because he was the CEO, and he believed it could be done (Northouse, 2015).

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According to trait theory, leaders are either born or made with the qualities that will make them successful leaders (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Individuals self-confident enough to believe that they can change the world will ultimately do it because of their inborn belief that they have the power to do it. From a very young age, Jobs showed signs of being a great leader and a revolutionist. He considered certain things that did not interest him a waste of time and even dropped out of school. He was a man driven by vision and his passion for technology. Jobs believed that anything was possible if the people charged with the task to do it were pushed hard to achieve the desired goal. Although many people questioned his methods of getting things done, he justified it by saying that all those he pushed were great people who had the potential to be even greater if they were motivated enough. Moreover, Jobs argued that nothing was possible if the people were too relaxed and lacked focus. He was single-minded and did only what he felt was beneficial to the company without caring if others agreed with him or if it would yield good results.

The behavioral theory focuses on a leader’s behavior and is not based on the mental, physical or social traits of a leader (Lussier & Achua, 2015). The theory is supported by the cultural dynamics of power to bring clarity on the subject of leadership. Behavioral theory states that a leader behaves in a way dictated by certain cultural beliefs in the organization. Apple had a secrecy culture that helped it come back to life after it almost succumbed to bankruptcy. Jobs was very secretive to the extent that he kept the employees out of projects that did not concern them. He also developed a policy where no employee was allowed to talk to the press without the guidance of public relation expert (Bolman & Deal, 2017). A focus on the vision and culture of the organization was ingrained in his personality.

In conclusion, Jobs was arrogant, as well as charismatic, and caring. He inspired his team members in a way that made them admire him. Some people wondered how anyone could look up to such a person. However, what most of them ignored was that he was a source of inspiration, he helped his employees become successful by telling them the truth without fear of insulting them. Therefore, some of the methods he used to get things done were bad and unjust but effective. His controversial leadership does not make him a bad leader but a unique one. His leadership was a unique one; therefore, many researchers have not had a conclusive idea of whether he was a good or bad leader.



Bolman, L.G., & Deal, T.E. (2017). Reframing power dynamics in organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. John Wiley & Sons.

Lussier, R.N., & Achua, C.F. (2015). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. Cengage Learning.

Northouse, P.G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. SAGE Publications.