Leadership Case Study: Steve Jobs - The Man Who Ushered in the Smartphone Revolution

The Transformational Leadership of Steve Jobs

Anyone and everyone who owns a Smartphone must be thankful to Steve Jobs, the late legendary founder of the tech firm, Apple, who not only ushered in the Smartphone revolution, but was also singlehandedly responsible for changing our perceptions about what a mobile phone can and could do.

Indeed, one Summer Day in 2007, Steve Jobs, took the podium in a special gathering summoned for the express purpose of announcing a mini-revolution wherein he spoke about how at times, a product is invented that combines technology, innovation, and ease of use to change the way the world works.

As he unveiled the Apple iPhone, Jobs made sure that the audience assembled there as well as the wider world would know how the game changing iPhone could now work as a mobile phone, a computer, and a personal assistant all rolled into one. Moreover, for the first time, we had a product that had more computing power than earlier era Satellites as well as a pioneering personal assistant right in our hands.

Thus, was born the Smartphone revolution that transformed the entire tech industry and gave rise to a generation of entrepreneurs who based their businesses around the concept of apps and other mobile telephony as well as computing business lines.

Innovator Who Had the Big Picture as Well as the Nuts and Bolts Detail

If we analyze the leadership strategies of Steve Jobs, we find that he was an innovator who had an eye for detail and at the same time, a visionary who also had the gumption to invent products that were essentially high risk endeavors that could “make or break” the fortunes of not only his firm but also that of the thousands of employees of Apple as well as his own personal reputation.

Indeed, Steve Jobs was a leader who was not only transformative but also transactional as can be seen from the many anecdotes and business coverage pieces about him. For instance, even during the end of his life (Jobs succumbed to Cancer a few years after the iPhone debuted) he was so attentive to the nuts and bolts about how the iPhone was designed that he called up one of his design specialists on a Sunday and had a lengthy conversation with him about how the Calligraphic fonts and the overlaying design could be bettered.

Indeed, Jobs was a revolutionary who not only led from the front but also cared about the “boots on the ground” as can be seen from his personal touch about how the iPhone looked.

The Exemplary Leadership of Steve Jobs

Talking about Calligraphy and Design, Steve Jobs is best known for a Commencement Address to students who were graduating wherein he spoke about how he took a course on Calligraphy during his education and which came in handy when he was designing the iPhone.

Jobs used this example to highlight how the choices we make during our education and career come in handy at some point or the other and how we ought to draw inspiration from our life experiences to help us wherever we and whatever we are doing.

While Steve Jobs was a college dropout (in a similar manner to the other tech genius, Bill Gates), it is not something that bothered him too much as he realized that education is a continuing experience and the formal degrees are just a step in the lifelong learning that we need to follow.

Indeed, Jobs was also a leader who practiced leadership by example as can be seen from his stint at Apple where he set a trailblazing path for others to follow, if not emulate.

Tech Titans Need to be Socially Responsible Leaders

Having said that, there is some criticism of Steve Jobs as well especially where his game changing innovations and their effect on the wider population were concerned. Given the fact that we are now talking about Smartphone Addiction and even Tech firms and their CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) are now seriously worried about the harmful effects of our Digital Devices, especially on Children.

In other words, the main criticism against such tech gurus and visionaries is that they also need to be socially conscious and responsible as far as their innovations are concerned.

In the same manner in which Alfred Nobel, the Inventor of Dynamite was astounded by the harm cause by his “explosive” creation, if Jobs were alive today, it is without doubt that he would be called to account for at least some of the fears and worries as mentioned earlier.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs rode the wave of the accelerating power of chips and technology and this is where some experts point that as we harness technologies, we must also be conscious of where they are leading us to.

In short, Jobs as a responsible leader would have definitely addressed some of these concerns.

Inspirational Leader

Lastly, the life and leadership of Steve Jobs is also inspirational as he was in his childhood, put up for adoption by his biological mother who could not afford to raise him and he went through a traumatic childhood and adolescence that were anything but pleasant.

It is to his credit that he did not let such aspects bog him down too much and continued to succeed despite the odds.

Further, he was also kicked out by the very firm that he founded only to return a few years later to rejuvenate Apple.

To conclude, with Apple reaching a Trillion Dollar stock market valuation (remember a Trillion is a Thousand Billions which is a Thousand Millions), we can be sure that Jobs is resting in peace.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


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