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The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple Essay

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Updated: Sep 3rd, 2021

Ethical leadership is a kind of leadership that upholds ethics. An ethical leader is expected to carry out some duties, and thus s/he has a chance of leading ethically. Ethical leaders consider the human values and dignity of their followers, hence, puts the interests of their followers before theirs. They use social power in their leadership styles unlike unethical leaders who apply authoritative powers.

Character and integrity are the key determinants of the kind of leadership that a leader can offer for such elements have a direct relationship with beliefs, values, and judgements. Ethical leaders pose characters that allow them to think about the impacts of their decisions and judgements on the lives of other people.

In most cases, they motivate their followers to uphold the interests of the entire organisation or group above their own personal interests, and thus they portray traits of inspirational leaders. Therefore, their characters encourage their acolytes to achieve individual growth, which in turn creates confidence and empowerment.

Ethical leadership is very important in businesses and organisations. The goal of a business organisation is to achieve high employee performance standards, maximise profits, and become one of the best corporate citizens. However, ethical leaders do not talk about their leadership styles, but followers learn from their actions, which preach more than they could talk.

Practicing ethical leadership in business organisations enables leaders to communicate truthful information where one is needed to take professional, personal, or legal measures. By so doing, their followers admire and respect them, hence knowing and trusting that their decisions are right to go by.

In addition, such kind of leadership enhances trust between followers and their leaders, since leaders make their decisions in a transparent manner. This paper explores the charismatic leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple. Apple is one of the listed companies that appeared in the Fortune 500 List in 2012.

It is one of the most profitable companies in the United States and it trades more than $414billion as of January 2013 in the NYSE. Job founded the company in 1976 together with other cofounders, Steve Wozniak and Robert Wayne. Under his leadership, the company withstood stiff competition by acquiring strong competitive advantages that kept it ahead of other competitors in the electronic industry.

Ethical leadership involves making of ethical decisions in an organisation. However, ethical decision-making process is a complex task whereby leaders put into considerations some crucial factors related to the running of an organisation. These factors include the intensity of an ethical issue, personal, and organisation factors, which include culture and opportunities.

These elements work in concert to determine purports that ultimately contribute towards the making of decisions, which might be ethical or otherwise. The intensity of an ethical issue relates closely to its expected importance to the impact of the decision to an organisation.

The ultimate goal of an organisation is to maximise the wealth of its shareholders. Nevertheless, some decisions that hasten the realisation of this goal have negative impacts to the organisation due to their unethical nature. Hence, ethical decision-making process must consider the impacts of any decision on the ethics and morality of an organisation.

When confronted by ethical decisions, in most cases, leaders are subjected to the six spheres of influence, which include workplace, reputation of the profession, legal system, religion, family, community, and importance of each to the arrived decision. A leader views every decision as a risk to the business in this complex ideology before considering the impact of its implementation to the overall business environment.

Hence, the risks test the hypothetical dangers for the validity of a decision before approved for implementation. Secondly, personal values play a major role in the decision-making process by ethical leaders of an organisation.

Ethical leaders put the interest of other people before theirs, and thus reject every decision that seems to subject their followers into problems. Hence, such leaders base the judgement of a decision on their personal values and principles, and they reject everything that their instinct dislikes without a second thought.

Additionally, the decision-making process also depends on the nature of the leader’s locus of control. Such control underscores one’s perception and aspects relating to how one is affected or responds to whatever happens within and outside his or her environment.

Ethical leaders portray a high level of internal control and thus they view themselves as mavericks that can think independently and come up with individual decisions through personal endeavours and accomplishments. On the other hand, those believing in external control do not have the ability to change the impact of natural events on their business.

In most cases, they ignore ethical judgements on decision-making processes. In addition, they must protect the reputation of their profession, and thus they reject any decision that poses a risk of tarnishing its reputation in the public arena. Lastly, ethical leaders put much consideration into the organisational factors such as the goals and objectives, culture, and values.

Therefore, they ensure that their decisions do not pose a threat to the organisation’s culture and values. Their main interest is to improve performance; hence, they consider decisions that do not pose negative impacts in an effort to seek ways of improving current conditions.

The success of Apple Company results from ethical leadership of Steve Jobs until his death in 2011. Leadership has crucial significance to the organisation’s culture. The top managers in an organisation represent the nature of corporate culture that they desire for their organisations.

Steve Jobs upheld the culture of innovativeness and thus welcomed any idea that could have resulted to a major innovation breakthrough for the company. In addition, he encouraged teamwork and dedication in the organisation.

The style of leadership is also a major influencer of ethical decision-making process in an organisation. There exist six main forms of leadership styles based on the leaders’ emotional intelligence, viz. coercive, authoritative, visionary, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching style of leadership. However, ethical leadership takes place only in the visionary and coaching types of leaderships.

Visionary leadership is the leadership style that is practised in successful businesses. Visionary leaders inspire their followers, believe in their mission, spread their passion for mission, and are empathetic about achieving their goals. It has positive effects to the organisation, which include followers getting motivated to give their best towards a common vision and strengthens the spirit of teamwork and individual’s responsibility.

Secondly, coaching leadership style is a form of leadership best known for nurturing and empowering the followers. The idea behind the coaching form of leadership is that a leader needs only to talk with followers in order to get the required changes rather than issuing threats and manipulations.

Leaders who use the coaching strategy treat their followers individually unlike in other styles where leaders treat their followers on collectiveness basis. This style is good for the best performing followers who get motivated, and in the end inspire others. From the biography of Steve Jobs, he practised the coaching leadership style in his leadership at the Apple Company.

He treated his employees individually in an effort to encourage their personal self-discovery. The effect of his leadership was the creation of alignment between individuals and the goals of the organisation. In addition, he always gained individual commitment resulting to great innovativeness of the Apple Company in the electronics and computer industries.

There are some instances where ethical leadership is practised, but does not yield the expected results. The most common leadership style for this case is the democratic leadership style, which involves the collection of opinions and ideas from the followers.

After the collection of opinions, leaders may choose to either discard them or implement them. Either of the decision results to failure of the ethical leadership. It is unethical to discard the opinions of the followers and again it is unethical to implement changes in order to please the followers in expense of the success of the organisation.

The second style of leadership, where ethical leadership fails, is the authoritative leadership style. In this form of leadership style, leaders have full control over the operations of an organisation and have clear visions that they communicate to their followers. In this form of leadership style, the leaders do not care about motivating their followers, but on their contribution towards the achievement of goals and objectives of an organisation.

Followers do not have the opportunity to contribute in the decision-making process and thus judgments upon them by their leaders are on a collective basis rather than on an individual basis. Another form of leadership whereby ethical leadership can hardly be practised is the pacesetters form of leadership.

In this form of leadership, leaders keep records of individuals’ contribution and pit the low contributors against the high contributors. This form of leadership is good for production environments for employees work at a faster rate than normal.

However, pacesetters form of leadership can easily compromise the quality of produced products because leaders are much after the quantity of work done other than the quality of the work. On the other hand, employees react negatively towards comparison and thus it is an unethical form of leadership.

Lastly, the coercive form of leadership is the most commonly practised form of leadership in many corporations across Europe and the United States. In this form of leadership, leaders force their employees to work as per their conditions failure to which they sack them.

This leadership style amounts to dictatorial leadership, and mostly practised over lowly paid employees for such employees are easily replaceable after posing resistance to their bosses. This form of leadership is an ancient form of leadership that does not require learning about the welfare of other people, but rather putting personal interests before others.

Steve Jobs did not use authoritative form of leadership at the Apple Company rather he practised a combination of democratic, coaching, and visionary form of leadership. During his tenure as the CEO of the company, he spent most of the time setting new goals for the company in the quest to remain ahead of other close competitors in the industry.

In so doing, he practised coaching leadership in research and developments where he encouraged individuals to develop new innovative products more frequently than the company’s close competitors did.

In addition, he practised visionary form of leadership, whereby despite setting new goals and vision for the company, he praised his employees whenever the company achieved a major breakthrough in the struggle for remaining competitive.

Apple is one of the organisations that are stressful, highly volatile, and need assurance given the high competitive market that the company trades in. Therefore, Steve Jobs could only have remained relevant by practising ethical leadership that uphold the value of the employees together with the organisation’s goals and objectives.

Steve Jobs was a key figure in the product launch due to his charismatic communication skills and intelligence in marketing. This aspect continued until his death and despite his resignation as the company’s CEO, he appeared in a product launch while acting as the company’s Chairman.

His love for the company contributed to the development of leadership characteristics that enabled him to consider what was beneficial for the company without putting much consideration into his personal affairs.

In conclusion, ethical leadership is necessary for the success of any business organisation. Apple Company has remained a successful company under the leadership of Steve Jobs due to his charismatic ethical leadership that enabled him to motivate employees.

A leader acquires ethical leadership after agreeing to sacrifice personal interests for the interests of the followers, and as a result, the followers get motivated to give their best to the organisation.

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"The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple." IvyPanda, 3 Sept. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-2/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple." September 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-2/.


IvyPanda. "The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple." September 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-2/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple." September 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethical-leadership-2/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Charismatic Leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple'. 3 September.

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