Apple Inc.’s founder and former CEO Steve Jobs (deceased in 2011) is a man praised for being a genius, and for essentially changing the way the world communicates. In fact, many go as far as saying that he was the greatest business leader of his time. However, there are those who criticize Jobs for being destructive to his employees and associates, and for being highly abrasive. In this essay, I will make an argument for why I believe Jobs was an ethical leader, and why many of the criticisms he has faced should be taken with a grain of salt. Steve Jobs was one of the most important people this century, because he managed to change the way people live their everyday lives by facilitating quick sharing of information and streamlining communication.
Carmine Gallo’s “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” uses personal examples to guide its direction, and can be used to provide some insights into the man’s character. Gallo highly touts the abilities of the man who brought the world the iPhone and other ground breaking Apple products that changed the way the world operates. The book explains to the reader how Steve Jobs was able to make the type of presentations he made. The book literally goes through the steps to becoming a savvy speaker to a large audience, and uses Jobs as an example. For example, “Scene 1” is about planning the analog – and then the book goes all the way to “Scene 7,” where it talks about revealing a hero that provides a better way to accomplish something. But it’s also a fan book, for people who idolize the man – often, these people are obsessed with technology and couldn’t possible imagine a life without constant access to the Internet. So is Jobs only widely praised for his technological achievements? Was the man actually an evil genius?
While not really anyone can deny that Jobs was a visionary, many people have associated other characteristics with the man. People have said that he is a “controlling person,” and “callous.” “Everyone knows that Steve had his ‘rough’ side. That’s partially because he really did have a rough side and partially because the rough Steve was a better news story than the human Steve,” states Ken Segall in the book “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success.” Of course, it is impossible to know what the man was actually like without meeting him, but I agree with Segall that his every move was likely sensationalized by the media. After all, Apple is the most-watched firm in the world, and various writers are looking for ways to sell a story. And, as Segall points out, there were many of the stories that praised Jobs, and these eventually “ran their course.” However, stories about the possible darker side of Steve Jobs weren’t as abundant, and likely prompted writers to unethically release those stories.
One of those stories is about how Steve Jobs was “arrogant,” and “cruel.” Those were the words that were used to describe Jobs in the biography that was written by Steve Wozniak, who also said the leader inspired people at one moment, but then demeaned them in the next. CNN put it this way: “According to the book, Jobs would often berate employees whose work he didn’t’ like. He was notoriously difficult to please and viewed people and products in black and white terms. They were either brilliant or ‘sh-t,” (Griggs, 2012).
The information that Wozniak is using is not from the original source: Steve Jobs. Everyone is going to have their own opinion about Jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a tyrant. While I have a bit of a subjective opinion about Jobs, due to the fact that I love my iPhone, I take some exception to Wozniak portraying Jobs in the way that he did. If he had said those things while Jobs was alive, he might have be sued for defamation of character. At the very least, Jobs would have been able to defend himself. Jobs left one of the greatest legacies of the century, and now that his character is being questioned because of these accusations. It wasn’t only the print media, but also a psychological journal that got in on the criticism of Steve Jobs. In an article entitled “Cutting-Edge Leadership,” by Ronald E. Riggio, he called Jobs a tyrant who would often throw temper tantrums and often “yelling at employees and board members,” but I doubt this is true.
To conclude, it is impossible for me to say whether Jobs was an ethical leader or not. I would assume that his business associates would have left him if he was not treating them properly. Jobs may have needed to be tough with his employees, but that might be part of the reason for the man’s amazing success. As was shown in “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” the man was extremely affable in his speeches, and that is really the only first-person account we can gain of the man. I’ve seen videos of him speaking, and I can only use my own judgement to say that he seemed like a decent person. Of course, Jobs was likely a different person when he was presenting, from when he was disciplining an employee, for example. But because of the accounts of a few people, that were likely sensationalized by the media, the entire legacy of the man has changed, and he is now not held in as high of esteem as he once was. Jobs wanted the best out of those that he employed, and he only hired those who he saw extreme potential in. He was on a mission to change the world, and this required great scrutiny in how he did business. Jobs may have needed to occasionally discipline those who worked for him, but Jobs had a vision, and those who didn’t perform to his high standards needed to be held in check. This is likely where the questions about the man’s character stemmed from.
Gallo, Carmine. (2009). The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any
Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill
Griggs, B. (2012, Oct. 8). How Steve Jobs’ Legacy has Changed. CNN Tech.
Riggio, R. (2012, Feb. 7). Why Steve Jobs Is a Leadership Nightmare. Psychology Today. Retrieved from