This Apple must be as popular as the apple that drove Adam and Eve out of Paradise. And the man responsible behind the success of the famed computer company is its head, Steven Jobs. The famed driving force behind the renaissance of Apple Inc., and the icon that defined global digital entertainment and culture.
John Markoff’s profile on Steve Jobs in the New York Times dated May 24, 2007, maps the mogul’s richly colorful career. Jobs founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, had conflict with Apple’s executive John Sculley and left in 1985, founded NeXt computer, then in 1986 bought and re-established Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division as the animation studio Pixar. After a decade in exile, he emerged in 1997 by selling the NeXt operating system to Apple and returning to the company to modernize its computers. Since then, Jobs have introduced the new Mac, churned out the iPod that have withstood giant competitors for years and continues to be an icon in the new generation’s fashionable gadgets, and have recently unveiled the Apple TV and the iPhone as part of Apple’s new accessories.
Jobs’ comeback has not been without controversy. Apple had the stocks controversy where they had an internal investigation regarding irregularities in stock options, but Jobs escaped unscathed. He was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, but survived it. In 2006, he has sold his Pixar studio to Disney and has since joined Disney’s board of directors. Jobs keeps focused on Apple though.
Steve Jobs is an effective leader for a variety of reasons: he had vision, he had innovation, he had determination, he had influence, and most importantly he had passion. Jobs is known in the industry for his leadership qualities, his motivation to succeed, and his dedication to his work. He believed in his vision, he knew what he wanted Apple to be, and after years of difficulties, he had emerged victor and have turned the dying company alive again.
To begin with, he founded his own company with his partner Wozniak and hired the people he deemed the best. He was twenty-one years old when he first established Apple, and sought out an experienced manager to help him make his dreams for the company come true. He found Sculley, a decision he would later regret when he was sidelined in the company he helped built. Despite these setbacks, Jobs did not give up. He believed in the power of computing technology, and moved on from Apple to starting his own computer company NeXt and kept at it even though it did not have a lucrative market. Ten years after, Apple bought NeXt from Jobs and had him back as CEO to reverse Apple’s near bankruptcy into profitability. If Jobs let go of his vision, he would not have gotten back full reins of Apple because he would have given up when he nobody believed in his progressive beliefs and ideas.
In the same way, he believed in innovation. He dared to go where no one has gone before. He believed aesthetic design and aggressive marketing to be as important as the software and hardware themselves. He did not sacrifice the capabilities of a product just to achieve a certain aesthetically pleasing design, nor did he prioritize design over competence. Instead, he pushed their products to accommodate both. He presented the iPod amidst speculations that it will not be able to debunk Sony’s Discman, despite consumer anxiety that it was not compatible with existing Microsoft software, and the hazy prospect of buying songs online. The iPod has undergone five generations, and recently released the latest iPod touch, and continues to be the leading music device of the generation.
Jobs exhibited determination, one of the main reasons behind his success. He would not accept failure quietly — he learned from his past mistakes and continued what he loved to do, his passion. He continued experimenting and developing computers even after his demise at Apple. Further, he expanded his horizons and bought Lucasfilm’s computer graphic division and repackaged it as Pixar. Pixar has then become the leading animation studio in the industry, attracting the attention of Disney that led to its eventual induction with the animation giant. Jobs’ determination was, in a way, indicative of his burning passion for his chosen field — he had the vision, the dream, and poured everything he had into it.
Lastly, what makes Jobs an effective leader is his influence. An individual is not a leader if he has no influence over others, if he cannot motivate them, share his vision with them. Apple and Pixar are successes because Jobs’ people believed in him and in his dreams. They followed where he wanted to go, and trusted his decisions. When he first left Apple, a handful who believed in him followed him to set up NeXt despite witnessing a major setback Jobs faced at his former company. A decade later, Apple have turned around and asked for Jobs help when they were in the brink of annihilation. They needed NeXt to breathe life back to the dying company, and Jobs took over. At first the employees were fearful of Jobs because he might fire them on the spot, but later on their affinity with the company increased when Apple started taking off. Jobs was proud, and he was proud of his company. As Apple’s stocks soared, Jobs congratulated the members of his company for the momentous day. His effectiveness as a leader might be measured by the risen value of the company that he runs, but more significant than that was his ability to create the brand Apple and inculcate it in the minds and lifestyles of the millions of iPod owners worldwide.
Even beyond his company, Jobs exercises influence — over technology trends and consumer choices. He is a powerful voice in the shareability and piracy of media. He is a trendsetter and the innovation that he spearheads influences the direction of the competition between him and other companies — perhaps the most significant indicative factor of his ability to influence. Indeed, it his ability to influence others because of his sheer faith that made his employees believe that the sinking ship that was Apple could actually be saved. And it was, under his strong leadership.