Steve Jobs - Leadership at Apple Inc.
Mette Sophia Schophuus
Katrine Nordby Larsen
Maria Nissen Homann
EOK XB CBS - Christian Warming
December 12th 2011
Number of characters: 11.114
Table of Contents
The successful electronic company Apple Inc. has during the last decade grown from being a company almost insolvent to being a worldwide brand. They have succeeded in creating best-selling products that combine software and hardware with focus on exquisite design and the newest technology. The former CEO Steve Jobs has since his rehiring back in 1998 made a huge difference. It is interesting to examine how Apple is structured as an organization, which type of leader Steve Jobs was, and what made him, not only a successful CEO, but also a role model in the world of technologies.
As an attempt to answer the questions above, we have created the following statement of problem with adjoining sub-questions:
In which way has Steve Jobs contributed to Apple’s present success and what similarities should his successor have in order to secure and continue the positive development of Apple?
How is Apple structured as an organization?
Who is Steve Jobs as a leader?
Discuss the future of Apple, after Steve Jobs’ death.
The Structure of Apple Inc.
“There’s tremendous teamwork at the top of the company, which filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company. And teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part, without watching them all the time, but trusting them…” (Steve Jobs, D8 interview 2010)
The organization Apple Inc. has a flat hierarchy with six levels. This makes it possible for the CEO and the Board of Directors to have a larger overview of the company. The departments at Apple Inc. are functionally grouped. Some (e.g. Global Communication) are then grouped geographically. The organization is divided into specialized departments or teams, who all report to a team leader. All team leaders then meet with the CEO to discuss matters. Within theses teams are people who the CEO trusts to do their part. This means the CEO has a quite narrow span of control, as he does not have the responsibility for all departments, but he has selective influence on them. On a daily basis, Jobs had direct contact with about 50 people, out of the about 10.000 working at Apple Inc. For the organization to run as smoothly as possible, Jobs let those of a higher status (“A-players”) have a lower formalization, as he feared that if he did not let these very qualified people do their job, they would leave the company. Those of a lower status have higher formalization, as Steve has little trust in them. At the same time, it can be said that the organization has a centralized structure, as for instance, no product is ever released without it being approved by the CEO. In many situations though, decisions have to be made without his approval. A reason for this can be found in the wise words “No brain can effectively control more than 6-7 other brains” (General Sir Iain Hamilton) Who is Steve Jobs as a Leader?
It is interesting to discuss whether Steve Jobs can be defined as a leader, or if he is in fact “just” a manager. Leaders can be said to be visionaries who drive new initiatives, which makes them likely to take risks. They seek to create positive or dramatic change. Managers on the other hand seek to achieve stability and predictability. It cannot be denied that Jobs has never hesitated to take a risk with his ideas and products, which would therefore make him a leader. “Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing” is another perception of the two terms. With undeniable success, Jobs has definitely done things right, which would make him a manager. Of course, there has been failure on his road to success, but if we take the firing from Apple (1998) as an example, his...
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