Leadership is a skill developed over time, which must be tempered with positive personality traits. Great business leaders have personalities that set them apart, and this determines the level of success achieved. Some writers have developed different levels of leadership in business, which are characterized mainly by personal traits. The level of leadership helps determine the quality of success attained in business. According to Jim Collins (2001), there is a level of leadership, which he calls ‘level 5 Leadership’ that sets apart companies that achieve greatness and remain at peak performance thereafter. This level of leadership is characterized by resilience, ambition and a will to make tough decisions. However, above all, it should be characterized by humility and a sense of teamwork in achieving the set goals.
This paper will focus on Steve Jobs, the American businessman, inventor and designer of electronic devices that included personal computers and revolutionary phones. Jobs founded and created Apple Inc., one of the greatest consumer electronics company in the world. His leadership style and ability to forecast on the futuristic trends in consumer electronics set him apart from many of his peers in the industry, making him one of the most successful business CEOs of the modern age. A power struggle between him and Apple Inc. directors led to his exit from the company in 1986. However, barely ten years later, Jobs was recalled back the CEO’s job to help rescue the company from diminishing profitability and near bankruptcy. His presence not only helped save the company from collapse, but also set it on a path to great success and performance that remains to the present.
Examples and Explanation of Leadership Qualities
Steve Jobs’ leadership in business is highlighted in the success of the businesses that he helped found. Among these is Apple Inc., NeXT and Pixar. When he was a director at Apple Inc., before his ouster in 1986, Jobs was overly ambitious and felt that the company had the potential to grow faster and more profitable than the CEO of the time was able to deliver. This led to a power struggle that saw him get kicked out. He went on to start NeXT and Pixar, companies that he nurtured and eventually sold at large sums of money. At the brink of bankruptcy, Apple recalled Jobs and offered him the CEO’s position in 1997. This helped turn around the fortunes of Apple to make it one of the most popular brands in the world. As a designer and innovator, Jobs knew that the future of the consumer electronics business was in developing convenience products to match with the modern lifestyles. Portability and ease of use coupled with creating media hype for the products just before launch were some of the strategies that Jobs applied to push the products in the market. He embarked greatly on research and development of new products. He also showed great leadership skills when it came to substituting the products nearing the end of their life-cycle, before the competitors could pull a surprise.
The introduction of revolutionary gadgets like Imac, Itunes, Ipods, Iphones and Ipads, which he helped develop created a huge competitive advantage for the company. He also helped introduce value-added services for the company that included Apple Retail Stores, Itune stores and App Store. This success led to financial stability in the company, making the company the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2011. The success of the above innovative products has led to many competitors struggling at a distance to catch up with Apple Inc.
Level 5 Leader or Not
Steve Jobs emphasized more on knowledge development and staying ahead in business than personal attention and glory. For example, Jobs was not the typical executive business-suit donning CEO. Instead, he was always donning jeans and a jumper with pulled up cuffs. Many of the company’s executives dressed similarly, helping to tone down the tension that comes with being in such a job. This also helped attract young innovators and designers who would otherwise not be comfortable in official wear. Jobs was also a hands on CEO who not only helped shape the sales and marketing strategies of the company, but was personally involved in all product research and development. He was a hands-on manager who always believed in his dreams and was never shy of pursuing them even when they seemed un-attainable. His ambitions and zeal are what had put him into a conflict with fellow directors that led to his kicking out of the company in 1986. Ironically, these are the same qualities that helped to turn-around the company after he was recalled to take the CEOs position in 1997. This makes Jobs a level 5 leader whose achievements will be case studies for a long time.
Level 5 leadership is not easy to acquire. However, Jobs’ success in founding companies likes Apple Inc. and Pixar and leading them to such great heights proves his prowess and abilities in business leadership. The fact that Apple Inc. continues to perform well even after his death proves that he had cultivated proper succession plans in the company. This is one of the main qualities of a level 5 leader.