General personality traits are observable within and outside the context of work (Dubrin,
Dalglish & Miller 2006). These traits contribute to satisfaction and success in personal life
likewise in the working environment.
Self-confidence indicates whether an individual is self-assured in his judgments, decision
making, ideas and capabilities (Lussier & Achua 2007). It includes a sense of self-esteem and
self-assurance and the belief that one can make a difference. Steve Jobs has a strong self-
confidence in his ability to solve problems and make decisions. Owing to his high controlling
power, Steve Jobs possess the ability to remake a big, dysfunctional corporation into a tight,
disciplined ship that accomplished tasks on his demanding schedules (Leander 2008). Self-
confidence differentiates between effective and ineffective managers (Yukl 2006).
Sense of humour / Enthusiasm
Avolio, Howell and Sosil (1999) stated that “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps”.
Humour crafts a person to being a people-orientated and amicable leader (Dubrin, Dalglish &
Miller 2006). In all speeches delivered by Steve Jobs during Apple product launches, he instils
the excitement about the new product to his audience (John 2006).
Extroverts like to meet new people, are outgoing, willing to confront others, moreover they tend
to enjoy human interactions and spend more time in social situations (Judge et al. 2002). When
requested to have a dialogue about his creation of Apple, Steve Jobs revealed his willingness in
numerous interviews and front cover photographs. He had proven his relationship with the world
media and for this reason; he exhibited this trait of an extrovert. Steve Jobs is also capable of
influencing his people to have a strong desire to work. Many colleagues described him as a
talented person who is captivating and can be a remarkable motivator (Angelelli 1994).
Extroverts will tend to exhibit inspirational leadership. An example of inspiration is when Jobs
lured Sculley from Pepsi by asking him if he wanted a chance to change the world or to spend
the rest of his life selling sugared water (). Since he is ambitious, influential and positive, he is
likely to generate confidence and enthusiasm among followers (Judge 1999).
The assertiveness of a leader is one who is forthright in expressing his demands, opinions,
attitudes and feelings (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006).
Steve Jobs impelled his workers to the heights of unethical extreme work conditions by working
nights and weekends for fifteen consecutive months in order to meet a deadline (Angelelli 1994).
He comes up with more aggressive visions (Morris & Levinstein 2008) and he is a perfectionist
who thrusts his staff to create elegant, iconic products (Burrows 2009).
Steve Jobs had low emotional stability. The solid facts supporting this view can be seen from his
reputation in the organisation is a terror inspiring taskmaster whom screamed at his workers and
randomly fired those unlucky ones.
Task-related personality traits
Steve Jobs has proven to be a task-oriented leader who tends to focus more on his task and
He was a micro manager and possessed a high degree of passion for his work. He shares his
passion with his staff by providing vision that will become reality, inspired his people, guided
and developed his team, and made many key decisions (Leander 2008). His passion was so
strong that even those collaborators who had been yelled by him appreciated his passion because
they could see the effect of his work. Simon and Young 2005, remarked Steve captured the spirit
of his groups and dictates that though working long hours at work, they shared one common
attribute, that is, to build an amazing computers that shocked the world. He selected people with
related goals and challenged them to accomplish the tasks by thinking different (Stross 1993).
The effort that they put in is more than the amount they earn and pursuing their career path.
(Simon & Young (2005)
Locus of control
Internal locus of control is applicable to Steve Jobs because people with internal locus of control
believe that their personal actions directly affect the outcome of an event. In this case, they are
most likely to seek the role of a leader due to the fact that they believe primarily in their capacity
to take charge (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006). Leaders with an internal locus of control take
responsibility for events and are risk takers for the performance of their organizations (Yukl
2006). Prior to Jobs’ return to Apple, the organisation was in an off-hand environment with
employees reporting late and knocking off early. After taking over, he controlled all aspects in
the day-to-day operations of Apple (Leander 2008).
Steve Jobs does not listen to people’s feelings, what he only listen is their ideas (Angelelli 1994).
We can deduce from this statement that he is deficient in his emotional intelligence. The ideas
the employees put forward to Steve ought to be exigent as he will force them to stick to the ideas
and often raised their blood pressure to test if they know the facts and have strong arguments
He is also lacking of empathy towards his employees. He strives for perfection incessantly and
those whom failed to meet his demands resulted in swallowing his verbal attacks (Angelelli
Leaders can overcome obstacles better (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006). This is referred to
being tenacious. Even though there were vast numbers of mobile phone models catered to suit
the needs of the dynamic consumer market, Steve Jobs stood on his solid grounds to launch an
iPhone (Burrows 2009).
Strong work ethic / Drive and achievement motive /Courage
He always demonstrates great ambition to build a global media empire and has high drive and
work hard to achieve his goal. His strong work ethics can be seen from him working 90 hours a
week and still loving it. He displays high levels of enthusiasm and energy for his work. High
energy leaders always have stamina and tolerate stress well. They deal with and do not accept
setbacks (Lussier & Achua 2007).
After being thrown out from Apple, Steve Jobs tried to do it all over again with a new company,
NeXT and planned to build the next generation of personal computers that are superior to Apple.
On the contrary, he failed to do so. He persisted and dealt with his failure. He shut his hardware
division and turned his attention to the software development (Angelelli, 1994). This trait
appears to be consistently linked with leader emergence and effectiveness.
Cognitive factors and leadership
Openness to experience
Leaders generally have above-average intelligence as Jobs does. Intelligence refers to cognitive
ability to think critically, to solve problems, and to make decisions (Lussier & Achua, 2007).
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, Apple was bleeding money. Within a year of Jobs as
interim CEO, he reduced the product lines and cut the wholesale cost, and Apple was back to
creating profit (). This example clearly shows that Jobs is intelligent because he is able to solve
problems in a short period of time. Openness to experience is characterized by intelligence and
originality (Judge et al. 1999)
Farsightedness and conceptual thinking
Insight into people and situations
Steve Jobs has the insight into his people and situation. A leader, who has insight of his
people, understands that they are the essential characteristic of the leaders. The leader will make
careful assessment of the member’s strength and weakness to select the appropriate members for
key assignments. This in turn helps the leader to judge the situation and adapt his leadership
approach accordingly (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006). Steve Jobs knew what he wanted at the
time he returned to save Apple; he kept the talents to help him with key assignments such as Mac
project and used his leadership style to influence these talents (Leander 2008).
Knowledge of the business
Recommendations and Suggestions
Steve has the dark side of his personality. His egoism often leads him to be ignorant to other
people’s ideas. He often rejects anyone’s work the first time it was shown to him. He should
develop his emotional intelligence which is relevant for leadership effectiveness. Most effective
leaders are alike in one essential way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence
(Goleman 1995). Jobs should have high self-regulation to control his impulsiveness and react
with appropriate anger to situations. Thus, it can prevent him from throwing temper tantrums to
his employees. Furthermore, showing empathy for employees is important to Jobs. He should
learn to understand the emotional makeup of other people and treat people according to their
emotional reactions. Hence, Jobs should be more sensitive to his employees’ feelings and
encourage them rather than unleash verbal attack to them.
An analysis of the Big Five Model identifies a list of different traits Jobs possesses that make his
business successful and his leadership unique. These traits include self-confident, extraversion,
high energy, intelligence and internal locus of control. It is quite evident that these traits are
important to his leadership success. His self-confidence gives him the ability to make hard
decisions and stand by them. Without extraversion, he is unlikely to confront with others and it is
hard for him to show his leadership abilities. With high energy, he is able to withstand setbacks
and persevere through hard times. His good intelligence helps him to quick response to many
tough situations, and finally, internal locus of control drives him to override challenges. On the
other hand, there is also dark side of Jobs’ personality egoism, lack of empathy and instability.
These traits can cause a leader to be derailed. Thus, Jobs must overcome these weaknesses to be
more effective. Nonetheless, Jobs is still considered as an effective leader due to his possession
of those leadership traits.
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