Apple Inc. which was formally known as Apple Computer, Inc. is a multinational corporation based in California USA, which designs and market’s personal computers, computer software, as well as other consumer electronics such as phones and music players. The leadership at Apple especially under Steve Jobs has always identified the needs of their loyal clientele in order to provide products that best fulfill their needs. The leadership has always been linked to the decision making process that the company has adopted as its core leadership strategy. The leadership at Apple can be divided into four categories, which are directive leadership, analytical leadership, conceptual leadership and behavioral leadership (Achua, 2009).
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To achieve the market domination that the company enjoys in the industry, the leadership had to adopt directive leadership, which has a low tolerance for ambiguity as well as a low cognitive complexity. The leaders are involved more on the technical decisions since the leadership style is more autocratic. This is because, to be an industry leader there is very little information out there on the new innovations as Apple doesn’t copy any previously made innovations. This means that it is important to act with speed before other companies can catch up, as well as provide satisfactory products to customers which give a whole new experience hence getting them hooked and loyal to the company’s products (Bach, 2007). This has led to the branding of Steve Jobs as a micro-manager. He even at one time admitted that there were over 100 people in the company who reported directly to him. It has therefore been identified that the top leadership at the company, though they have tried to promote as many meetings as possible, is still less participative in a personal level. Their competitors such as Microsoft, Dell and HP on the other hand, have a clearly defined system of management that has been structurally set up (Bowerman, 2011).
There is also the adoption of conceptual leadership where the management evaluates different options in order to come up with the best option that will fit their corporate strategy and which will also give their customers the greatest satisfaction. Conceptual leadership is characterized by shared goals and in this case the company has always enjoyed a synchronized system of personal as well as organizational goals. This has ensured that they consistently launch new products into the market that are both superior and innovative before any of their competitors can catch up (O’Grady, 2008). Conceptual leadership is mainly driven by creativity as well as an understanding of complex relationships, with a long-range focus and high commitment levels in the organization. This has also ensured that achievements are highly appreciated and employee independence is promoted for high productivity to take place.
It has been identified that directive as well as conceptual leaders have a focused and creative thinking. Apple in this case has remained focused on their goals and has adopted creative as well as innovative technologies that have kept them ahead of their competition (Daft, & Lane, 2007). The primary motivation of their leaders is often recognition or a high status in the industry that they have achieved with the launch of superior products into the market. Though the decision process for middle level managers has always been tailored to a set of predetermined rules that are based on the company strategy, the top managers have for some time relied on intuition and personal judgment. This has made the company, especially under the leadership of Steve Jobs, unpredictable as their competitors have always been in the dark on their next move (Denning, 2010). The critics to the leadership styles of Steve Jobs have always cited his erratic behavior where he is known for changing his mind a couple of times before making a solid decision to be as a result of his intuitive reasoning. Though this may be disadvantageous in other companies, the nature of the leadership of Steve Jobs in micromanaging, has always kept the company ahead of their competitors in the market (Linzmayer, 2004).
Being a technology company Apple has centered most of their leadership strategies on innovation. They have been keen on recognizing any redundancies in the industry and exploring ways of identifying new industry practices. Their design and engineering teams have incorporated brainstorming meetings into their weekly schedules where ideas on ways of tackling their everyday challenges are raised and deliberated upon, until a solid solution is identified. There are also production meetings where the identified ideas are structured into their core strategies in their quest to identify the best way of their application. The active participation has for time promoted efficiency as all departments are involved in the decision making process. It has, however, been identified that, though there is active participation at Apple, the reign of Steve Jobs as CEO saw less of the other employees’ ideas being implemented and more of his own ideas (Lussier, 2008). This has always been cited by critics as one of the weaknesses of Steve Jobs, though his supporters cite the success of those ideas as a personal strength that Apple has enjoyed over the last decade.
To explore this further it would be important to identify the leadership components of Steve Jobs. This is because he has been identified as the most influential leader in the company, who rescued it from near extinction and made it a world leader in the technology industry. Some of the most outstanding aspects about him are focus, passion, innovation, involvement and effective communication (Müller, 2011). The nature of the company as well as their core strategies dictates that they adopt conceptual leadership which can lead them to be innovative in generating their products. It also dictates that their products have to be adaptive to the market as the launch of a new product is often clouded by uncertainty on customer perceptions and acceptance into the market (Denning, 2010).
Creativity is also required to achieve the rapid growth of a product. With the many products that the company has been launching consecutively, their products have had to contend with a short lifecycle. This has meant that the products they launch have to be accepted in the market as quickly as possible for the company to recover its investments and to achieve it set profit margins. To achieve this creative marketing has to be incorporated into their management strategy and it has to be in-line with their innovation strategy (Peshawaria, 2011). This is to allow the marketers to fully exploit the market potential of product before the creative as well as the production teams can come up with a new and more improved product. What could be identified as one of the strongest marketing tool that the managers at Apple have is their creation of demand sometimes even before the launch of a product. This has made their customer profile more of a following as their customers are always eagerly waiting for the launch of their new product. This ensures that any new product that they launch achieves market acceptance as quickly as possible. This is one of the strengths that their competitors have had some challenges achieving (Tompkins, 2007).
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