Leadership Theories Essay Samples



Apple has witnessed a change in leadership after the demise of its CEO Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was a transformational leader who influenced and inspired both employees as well as the general public by means of his vision and charismatic personality (Galloway, 2013). A transformational leader is one who leads by means of intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individual consideration and idealized influence.

Leadership style of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was the founder of Apple and then he was ousted from the company when he went on to form Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar Animation Studios garnered huge profits and was subsequently acquired by Walt DisneyStudies in a deal which offered the largest share at Walt Disney (Burrows, Grover & Green, 2006). When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, 12 years later, as the CEO, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. During this time, Apple needed a transformational leader who would focus into changing the structures and processes so as to support innovation. Steve Jobs attained this and brought about disruptive commodities in the industry like Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Apple iPod and so on. His marketing and promotional campaigns attracted the general public and subsequently witnessed the growth of Apple into one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products in the world. The manner in which Steve Jobs marketed and promoted the products launched by Apple helped in bringing up the sales of products (Leonard, 2010). Despite this, Jobs has always been accused of being an autocratic leader. He did not believe in employee empowerment and meticulously looked into every detail himself by not delegating work. Moreover, he surrounded himself with highly talented individuals and had an in group which is the crux of the leader member exchange theory. He was mainly available to the in group and did not come into contact with the out group and motivated and communicated with the out group members by means of the in group members.

Leadership style of Tim Cook

Today, Apple is the leading firm and the leadership has been taken over by Tim Cooks. Apple does miss the entrepreneurial fervor and creativity that was advocated by Steve Jobs, but Cooks is a very rational leader who emphasizes on values and hence Apple is growing by means of becoming a mature and a rational organization. Tim Cook is more of a manager and the leadership style displayed by him is transactional in nature. A transactional leader is one who believes in management by exception and contingent reward. Management by exception is the manner by which leaders act in order to resolve passive or active issues when they crop up. Tim Cook is a leader who takes active participation in order to resolve issues. This leadership quality was not displayed by Steve Jobs. Apple, like any other organization, also bungles up and has previously distributed faulty products into the consumer market. However, it has been witnessed that Steve Jobs took considerable time to acknowledge faults and issues and the manner to pacify dissatisfied customers showed an evident lack of penance. On the other hand, Cook has displayed active participation in order to resolve issues by acknowledging the flaws in products and also striving to keep customers from looking into alternative commodities manufactured by rival organizations like Microsoft and Google (Stone, Satariano & Burrows, 2012).
When Cook assumed leadership of Apple, there was a lot of speculation as most individuals believed that after Steve Job’s charismatic and transformational leadership style, it may be difficult to successfully run an organization by some other leader. Cook is increasingly focusing on gaining the trust of employees and by ensuring that Apple’s internal customers are happy. An instance of this has been portrayed by the manner in which a memorial had been organized to dedicate to Steve Jobs. The speech given by Cook in this memorial became a mantra for the employees as Cook maintained that the organization has been instructed not to worry about the manner in which particular decisions would be taken if Jobs was present. One of the most significant leadership moves has been that of introducing corporate social responsibility into its organizational culture. The introduction of a highly transparent supply chain system, organizing corporate matches for charitable donations by the personnel of Apple, not withdrawing its commodities from an environmental certification program (Tyrangiel, 2012), advocating Foxconn Technologies (Apple’s supplier in the Chinese region) to provide safer and better working conditions for employees or even issuing dividend to its shareholders all speak of developing and promoting an organizational culture which supports ethics and corporate social responsibility.


Tim Cook displays a leadership style which is employee friendly and takes care of the internal employees of Apple. The employees are happy as engineers maintain that they do not have to cancel vacations during the product development stage as was the case during the leadership of Steve Jobs. Moreover, the introduction of innovative measures to cut down on time reflects higher competency by Apple as it helps to distribute and establish its product market in China. This time saving has also helped the firm to garner competitive edge and at the same time has helped employees to be happy as they are able to enjoy vacations and not miss them due to last minute work pressures. The above analysis displays that employees would favor Tim Cook to lead the organization as compared with Steve Jobs mainly due to his balance in providing maximum satisfaction to the relevant stakeholders including employees, shareholders and the customers.


Burrows, P., Grover, R. & Green, H. (2006). Steve Job’s Magic Kingdom. Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_06/b3970001.htm
Galloway, R., (2013). Is Tim Cook the man to lead Apple? Huffington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-galloway/is-tim-cook-the-man-to-le_b_2496969.html
Leonard, D. (2010). Commentary: The Last Pitchman. Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_25/b4183004440240.htm
Stone, B., Satariano, A. & Burrows, P. (2012). Mapping a path out of Steve Job’s Shadow. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-03/mapping-a-path-out-of-steve-jobs-shadow
Tyrangiel, J. (2012).Tim Cook’s freshman year: The Apple CEO Speaks. Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-06/tim-cooks-freshman-year-the-apple-ceo-speaks#p1