Leadership And Management At Apple Corporation Management Essay

Those in management position must develop a leadership style. The selection of styles is contingent on the leader’s personal traits. Ultimately, the leader has to select a style that will be most effective for the situation at hand.

The general leadership style includes: autocratic, democratic, participative, and laissez faire.

Autocratic leaders tend to tells subordinates what to do and expect them to do it. The subordinates of an autocratic leader are not involved in decision making and have little if any autonomy. Democratic leaders seek input from subordinates and do what the majority of subordinates want. Some argue that a democratic leader is more of a facilitator than a leader. Participative leaders tend to involve subordinates in leadership activities and decision making, but ultimately they retain final authority. A laissez-faire leader takes a hands-off approach to leadership, allowing subordinates to make decisions. The mantra of a laissez- faire leader is “Hire good people and get out of their way.”

In this assignment I will focus on just one type – the autocratic leadership style – its strenghts and weakenesses and when to use this leadership style. To support that, I will also be writing about the Apple Corporation, which includes the CEO of the Corporation Steve Jobs leadership styles and the problems he face.

Autocratic leadership

Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where leaders have absolute power over their workers or team. Staff and team members have little opportunity to make suggestions, even if these would be in the team’s or the organization’s best interest.

Most people tend to resent being treated like this. Therefore, autocratic leadership usually leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. For some routine and unskilled jobs, the style can remain effective because the advantages of control may outweigh the disadvantages.

Aurocratic leadership is a more traditional and classical approach to management relying upon threats and punishment to influence its employees. This style is often called the “hard” approach to leadership. This method, according to UT (2001) is effective for many reasons;

– When there is limited time to make a decision.

-When there are new and untrained employees who do not know how to perform certain tasks.

-When effective supervision can be provided only by orders and instruction.

-When employees do not respond to other leadership styles.

– When work must be integrated with other departments.

Mintzberg (1979) described situations in which an autocratic style was most applicable. Entrepreneurial organisations are normally smaller businesses which develop from the ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of one person. This person is responsible for their organisation and makes all the decisions – the characteristics of an autocrat. The nature of these smaller organisations and the relative lack of formalisation mean that autocratic leadership is commonplace in this particular part of industry.

Another situation where the autocratic leadership style proves appropriate is while doing group projects. Many group projects tend to fail because group members depend on each other to make decisions. Such situations demand the need of an authoritative leader who can make decisions for the group. The leader should determine the ways in which the project would be done, divide the job among the members, and also set a deadline for completion of the project.

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Though there have been cases where adopting an autocratic leadership style has led to the success of the company, it is very rare for such leaders to remain popular among the employees and workers. In a nut shell, it can be said that autocratic leadership can be accepted when the need arises, while a good leader would be a person who respects the opinions of his employees while making a decision.

Autocratic leaders in the work place

Autorcratic leadership in the work place will permit quick decisions, facilitates speedy implementation of plans, leaders are highly satisfied. It will also be effective when subordinates are less knowledgeable and experienced, and in case of extreme crises, this style may be the only solution.

However some studies suggest that organizations with lots of autocratic leaders have higher turnover and absenteeism than other organizations.  With today’s emphasis on joint decision making and empowerment, employees just entering the workforce will be highly resistant to this management style.

So the autocratic leadership style should be not be used when you want to get your employees engaged in the decision making process.  Autocratic leaders are also not very effective in situations where your employees might become resentful or fearful.

Finally, if your company is struggling with low morale or is interested in building employee relationships, an autocratic leadership style will only make things worse.

The Apple Corporation

Apple was launched successfully in 1976 by Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with the company initially growing at a tremendous rate -led by the Apple II and other state of the art computer products.

In September 1997, Steve Jobs was appointed the ‘interim CEO’ of leading information technology (IT) company, Apple Computers (Apple), by the Apple board. Considering the fact that the company’s board itself had ousted Steve in a coup in 1983, this development was watched with interest by media and industry observers. Steve’s comeback was being seen as Apple’s desperate attempt to survive one of its worst phases: losses for 1997 amounted to $ 1.6 billion. The company reportedly needed a charismatic leader who could steer it back to profitability and revive its fortunes. Those who had followed Steve’s career graph over the decades were not too surprised at these developments. Steve made a successful business out of creating PCs that were not only user friendly but were also aesthetically pleasing, unlike the ‘dull’ models available those days. Steve’s research on the Macintosh resulted in the creation of the windows interface and the mouse technology, which went on to become standards in the software industry.

Steve was named the Entrepreneur of the Decade in 1989 by Inc magazine. He was also placed 39th on the Advertising Age ‘Top 100 Advertising People’ list.

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Internally Steve Jobs tends to be very authoritative, His decisions were made with minimal consultation, and his decisions were made quicker allowing him to respond to changes in the business environment more quickly. The Environmental changes which includes facing their competitors, such as Microsoft.

On the other hand, because of his “manipulative” behavior he is considered by some of his employees as authoritative. His behavior and Autocratic style in meetings for instance is described as being rude, and obnoxious. Because of his quest for perfection he has domineering presence which makes some of the employees fear him.

Figure 1.1

Apple’s Biggest Competitors remains to be the Microsoft Corporation. Although Bill Gates’ Leadership style was democratic and participative, Steve Jobs was autocratic and efficient in a way. His work is a demonstration of both innovation and creativity. He is responsible for the creation and release of the iPod and I Phones. Most people do not know this, but Apple Inc. put up overwhelming resistance when Jobs proposed the iPod idea. For Apple, that represents an impressive 250 percent revenue growth.

And Due to Steve’s speedy decisions, Figure 1.1 shows that Apple could catch up with Microsoft as early as 2010 or 2011, given the current growth rates.

Pros and Cons of Autocratic Leadership

In fact we might not think there are a lot of good things to say about autocratic leaders. This style of leadership is often very stressful on fellow employees and makes the work environment itself not such a fun place to be.  But like all leadership styles, there is a time and a situation where the style is appropriate.





Effective for theory X Workers

Gives leader control over decisions

Loses effectiveness over time

Theory Y workers may not respond

Does not develop future leaders

Pros of Autocratic Leadership

In the workplace, some conditions may simply call for urgent action, and in these cases an autocratic style of leadership may be best style to adopt. Surprisingly, most workers have already worked for an autocratic leader and therefore have little trouble adapting to that style.

In fact, in times of stress or emergency some subordinates may actually prefer an autocratic style – they prefer to be told exactly what to do.  So to summarize – the autocratic leadership style is very effective when times are stressful, but very stressful during those times when the pressure is off the followers or coworkers.

Steve Jobs in the Apple Corporation for instance preferred the autocratic style for quicker decision making and also control over his decisions. Steve Jobs is demanding both towards himself and towards his employees. His deadlines often seem impossible to meet, but is constantly moving, moving towards improvement in all spheres and fields of his work.

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Due to Steve Jobs high Autocratic leadership style, some ways Apple might be better off without Steve Jobs. But case in point, the rapid decisions and invention of such items as IPods, I Phones were very difficult and complex in implementation. Only an autocratic leader like Jobs could ever withstand the public outcry for such basic functionality.

Cons of Autocratic Leadership

The communication style of an autocratic leader is usually described as one way.  They tell you exactly what they want done. The feedback you would get from this type of leader would generally be unplanned. They would simply tell you when you’ve made a mistake.

The decision making process is usually unilateral and they accomplish goals by directing people.  Now that might not sound like the type of leader you’d follow.

Although Steve Jobs way of leading autocratically will enable faster decisions to be made in the short term, but this will deprive subordinates of the opportunity to gain experience and start on their own leadership development, (Does not develop future leaders). The subordinates cannot learn from their mistakes, and the manager is actually de-skilling their workforce which will lead to poorer decisions and productivity in the long run.

Figure 1.2

Apple Inc Vs Microsoft Company.

How did Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Differ in their Leadership Style?

Well, Bill gates leadership is participative style because he involves his subordinates in decision making. He is a flexible person and he recognized his role was to be visionary of the company. Whenever needed, he bring professional managing and well structure of the organization. His motivating power and involving friends to working with him became the success of Microsoft.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs leadership is autocratic style, because he centralizes the authority, he never given a chance to subordinates to involving decision making. He thinks that whatever he do is right. His relation with employees is not good; he fails to motivate them in many times. His conceited and self-satisfied attitude and lack of management skills became a threat of Apple’s success.


So, does an autocratic style of leadership always ensure organizational success? The simple answer is no. A style of leadership can never ensure success but what it can do is to aid that process and compel it into being a success. Autocratic styles of leadership are becoming less and less applicable but there are still many contexts in which they work. Entrepreneurial organizations – especially in their early and formative years – rely upon this style as without it there would be no conviction and effective decision making. Where it fails is in larger organizations where employees hold greater power and there is a more formalized culture. Democracy in decision making and involving them is a key to maintaining employee motivation which is vital for the productivity of the company.

“Leadership is action, not position.” — Donald H. Mcgannon

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