Biography of a Cross Cultural Leader: Steve Jobs

June 8, 2021

In the preceding several years, leadership has mostly turned out to be a primary topic in the management literature, a subject of reflection, inscription and teaching. While the significance of leadership is acknowledged globally, there exist numerous definitions of it. Despite the truth that the corporate literature on leadership is extremely vast, the agreed-upon definition of leadership has not been created. Leadership is both deeply studied and practiced in numerous establishments. According to Kawamura (n.p.), a leader needs to excel in various roles like the manager, leader, coach, and mentor. Successful leadership relies on different factors like followers behavior, the organization culture, and the individual leadership qualities. The best instances of successful leaders are multi-dimensional persons like Steve Jobs. Through his cross-cultural leadership traits, Jobs made a significant contribution to contemporary global leadership. This has been consistent with his personal cultural background which helped to shape the leader beyond borders.

Steve Jobs

As a global phenomenon, leadership is commonly deliberated and evaluated across numerous settings. Formal institutions have been observed to incorporate at least two exclusive yet complementary features of the leadership phenomenon. Additionally, leadership entails three diverse levels which include operational, team and strategic. The nature of this phenomenon proves to be challenging to describe and explain. Nonetheless, leadership has been defined as the capacity to influence others to accomplish organizational objectives (Kawamura n.d.). However, various factors define an ideal and unique leader, and different academicians have advanced theories and dimensions to explain the same. Good leaders are a blend of various attributes and values some of which are culturally inherent while others are acquired from other cultures and learned.

Background and Major Decision

Steve Jobs was born of the immigrant parents but raised by adoptive parents in San Francisco. He briefly attended college after high school, which he dropped out and started his career at Atari Computer Company. However, he later left Atari for India in quest of enlightenment, and after his return to California, he co-pioneered Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in his parents garage (Apple Co-Founder). The company later created Macintosh after successfully launching the successful Apple II computer. However, Jobs resigned from the firm to start his computer corporation NeXT and similarly bought Pixar which represented Lucasfilm’s graphics-arts division. Under Jobs leadership, the new Apple Inc. started iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Owing to these inventions with Apple and NeXT, Steve is thought to have revolutionized seven industries including music, animated film, digital publishing, personal computers, retail stores, tablet computing, and telephones.

Unfortunately, Steve Jobs suffered from a rare type of pancreatic cancer and bravely fought the condition for years. Five years later after being diagnosed, he sent a letter to Apple Board of Directors and Community describing the state of his health and his inability to meet his obligations (Apple Co-Founder). He later handed over the CEO duties to Tim Cook. In October 2011, Steve Jobs died from complications arising from the condition he suffered. At his demise, Jobs was called by C/NET, an establishment focused on offering its followers with facts and reviews of expertise, an iconoclast who transformed the manner people complete tasks from the way they listen to music and watch films to how they educate their children (Apple Co-Founder). Among the decisions that Jobs made in his life concerning Apple is that prior to starting the company, he had earlier visited India to get some insights. Later, when he broke out from Apple and created his business NeXT, the former began experiencing financial constraints. Nonetheless, Apple bought NeXT. The primary decision came when he agreed to work as an employee for the corporation which helped reestablish Apple back to its feet. This choice is largely owed to Jobs cultural context which states that the main duty of a worker is to serve the company. Steve Jobs owed his duty to Apple and that is why he made the decision. This averted a major threat of bankruptcy to the organization. Steve Jobs impact on leadership is what gave him widespread accolade.

Steve Jobs: An Analysis of Leadership Traits from a Cultural Background

Steve Jobs never completed college and was born of the immigrant parent and raised by adoptive parents. It is clear that such cultural background may have a significant impact on the individual. However, Steves leadership traits were different from what would be expected from him founded on the cultural background. Through his innovation and unique leadership approach, Jobs developed Apple into a global leader in the industry. The accomplishments of the corporation would not have been realized without Steve’s leadership. It, therefore, becomes imperative to understand Jobs leadership traits. He represented an intricate leader with a distinct personality that played a vital role in the way he led corporations. His primary characteristics entailed being a perfectionist, passionate, increasingly intuitive, compelling, charismatic, open-minded and inspiring. According to Kawamura (n.p.) one of a leader’s traits is to inspire individuals. In most of his leadership endeavors, Jobs showed characteristics of a distinct personality.

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Research has established that individuals who reveal strong personality qualities want to be in charge. This is broadly associated with leadership autonomy. According to Hoppe (n.p.), leader autonomy is common in Southeastern Asian countries like India. Jobs was strict on having his ideas implemented at Apple. He occasionally set impractical product development goals but possessed an unbelievable persuasive power. For an effective leader, persuasion is imperative, and it is what makes him/her unique. This is openly dissimilar from what would be expected of an individual of his cultural background and upbringing.

Similarly, Jobs faced a challenge in agreeing, and he had tough negotiations with suppliers and the interpersonal style he employed in assigning his needs usually made workers angry. According to Hoppe (n.p.), being an effective bargainer helps one become an outstanding and a culturally contingent leader.

Some people may relate some of Jobs traits to his cultural background. For instance, he suffered from a flaw in the change character dimension. According to Hofstede, this feature is specific to a person and characteristically identifies him/her (Kawamura n.p.). The manner he behaved towards workers made him appear psychologically unstable. It is understood that his employees developed a fear that Jobs would fire them instantly, and he would lash out suddenly even at his closest associates and command loyalty. This is commonly identified in Hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance factors (Kawamura n.d.). However, contrary to these assertions, Jobs was very stable in the conscientiousness personality dimension. He set objectives for his corporation and ensured that he accomplished them. From a GLOBE perspective, Jobs was an autonomous leader also owing to his individualistic nature.

Jobs was a perfectionist. He steadfastly pursued his ideals. Similarly, regarding personality dimension, Steve was always open to different experiences which reveals the GLOBE’S feature of personal and future orientation (Branson n.p.). He maintained an open-minded and willing approach to discover new ways to innovate his products. His vision of developing killer products had a significant impact on changing the world of business operations. This mastery may be associated with Schwartz dimension (Branson n.p.). Though some of Steve Jobs actions may be not ideal from a moral viewpoint, his intelligence, self-confidence, and determination apparently reflect he was a great leader.

Much can be learned from Jobs transformational leadership style. After his demise in 2011, Steves life has become a public domain. He has been described as being the ideal example of a transformational leader despite others criticizing his temperament and secretive nature.

Nonetheless, like Cook, the actions and misdeeds of Jobs at Apple should be judged based on the context of the cultures surrounding him. His visit to India gave him a lot of insight regarding business. This was accomplished through learning the Indian culture which incorporated the attitudes, values and logical processes that offer intellectual maps for reasoning.

Hofstedes dimensions may be employed in understanding Jobs leadership traits. Hofstede, a pioneer in the domain of country-cultural and cultural studies, offers a multi-level conceptual analysis of cultures which can be employed to understand Steve Jobs. It has been discussed in the paper that it is highly likely that Jobs would fail in the business considering his cultural background. Nonetheless, regarding Hofstede, culture can change an individual, but the deeper values remain unchanged. This confirms the assertion that leaders are made, not born (Kawamura n.p.). Jobs direct and expressive nature fits appropriately in numerous customary American cross-country cultural dimension descriptions, like Hofstede, in which the American culture is regarded as being more individualistic and direct.

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Questions

Steve Jobs was a unique leader, and if I had the chance to meet him, I would ask various questions.

1. What is your greatest achievement?

2. How can you introduce client-centric design to other sectors like, for instance, healthcare?

3. What is your association with fear?

4. What are your teams characteristics that facilitated your success?

5. Finally, I would ask him what it takes to maintain the market position in a competitive industry. This question would be founded on Jobs success and accomplishments as a leader.

Leadership can be described as a subject that has been under study for a significant period. As such, various research has established or sought to explain what makes a unique leader. Among the world leaders who had an impact on leadership is Steve Jobs. Being born of immigrant parents and raised up by adoptive parents may have had an influence over him. This is in addition to dropping out of college before completion and opening his first firm together with his friend. However, various factors paved the way for Jobs as a unique leader. It all began with his traveling to India where he sought enlightenment. It is during this trip that he acquired some culturally inherent values of South-Eastern Asian country which would help him in becoming a global leader. Other dimensions have been put forward to explain his behavior and characteristics. Though he may be criticized for instances of rational behavior, Steve Jobs made a mark in global leadership. This is observed in the way he led Apple and other companies to success and also the manner in which he handled his team members.