Changing Perspectives through Collaboration, Empathy, and Transformational Leadership

Case Study: Transformational Leadership


Slide 1

Title: Transformational Leadership Case Study

Slide 2

Title: Objectives

Define leadership theories.

Assessan effective leadership theory or approach to support an organizational change.

Slide 3

Title: Challenge

Voice Over: In this case study, you will assess and evaluate how Steve Jobs used transformational leadership to turn Apple into a highly successful, innovative organization. You will also assess another dominant leadership style he used and the impact of both these leadership styles.  You will practice collaboration skills that promote diversity of thought and dispel inappropriate communication. In addition, you will learn the role of empathy in collaboration, change leadership, and transformational leadership.


This case study will enable you to:

  • Understand how Steve Jobs used transformational leadership to turn Apple into a highly successful and innovative organization.
  • Explore dominant leadership styles and their impact on organizational practices.
  • Practice collaboration skills that promote diversity of thought and dispel inappropriate communication.
  • Apply the role of empathy in collaboration, change leadership, and transformational leadership.

Slide 4

Title:  Changing Perspectives through Collaboration, Empathy, and Transformational Leadership

What are the benefits of collaboration and empathy in the workplace and how do they relate to transformational leadership and effective change management?

  • Effective leaders collaborate to improve their thinking and handle complexity effectively.
  • A collaborative workplace allows for the effective flow of information; creativity; enhanced problem-solving; an engaged, productive workforce; and trusting relationships.
  • Empathy promotes effective collaboration, innovation, and competitive advantage.
  • Empathy makes you a more effective leader because you:
    • Understand others better
    • Build better relationships
    • Retain talent
    • Lead effective change
    • Create cohesive, innovative organizations
  • Collaboration and empathy are key characteristics of transformational leaders.

Slide 5

Title:  Overview of Jobs’ Role in Apple

Steve Jobs founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak. Four years later, their company went public, and four years after that, they launched the Macintosh.

As time went by, Jobs’ vision for the computing industry increasingly clashed with Apple CEO, John Sculley.  In 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple.

By 1997, Apple was in severe financial difficulty. However, in 1996, Apple had purchased NeXT, a company founded by Jobs, and Jobs was again working for Apple.

Fortunately for Apple, Jobs revived the company through his innovations and leadership and, by 2011, Apple was challenging ExxonMobil as the most globally valuable company.

Slide 6

Title:  Jobs’ Leadership Approach

Jobs utilized aspects of transformational leadership to bring about these changes in Apple and lead it to success.

Transformational leadership is about going beyond the status quo, and consists of continuous personal and organizational improvement and innovation.

The four main characteristics and behaviors transformational leaders display are:

  • Individualized consideration (shows empathy to and communicates openly with each individual follower)
  • Intellectual stimulation (challenges the status quo, takes risks, seeks input from and collaborates with others)
  • Inspirational motivation (creates an inspiring vision for others and takes actions to move the organization forward to achieving the vision)
  • Idealized influence (displays a high level of faith, ethical behavior, and self-esteem)

Slide 7

Title: Jobs’ Leadership Approach

How do you think employees and co-workers responded to Jobs’ visionary leadership?

Answer field

Slide 8

Title: Jobs’ Leadership Approach


Jobs was highly respected for his vision and talent, and ability to bring his visions into reality. This inspired and created trust in Apple’s workforce, investors, and customers.

Slide 9

Title: Criticisms of Jobs’ Leadership Style

In addition to a transformational leadership approach, Jobs used a transactional leadership approach. Transactional leadership is using reward and punishment to gain compliance from others.

Moreover, while Jobs certainly changed the culture and success of Apple for the better, he was known to have poor interpersonal skills. He could be rude, harsh, and irritable with others, and often moved ahead without taking others’ ideas, opinions, and feelings into consideration.

In fact, Wozniak stated that Jobs did not need to “terrorize” others as he did in order to succeed.

Has this new information changed your perspective about  the effectiveness of Jobs’ leadership?

Slide 10

Title: Alternative View

Consider the poor reports  and criticisms of Jobs’ leadership style.

Put yourself in the place of those who were on the receiving end of Jobs’ negative treatment.

What do you think the impact of his negative interpersonal behavior was on the workforce and culture of the organization?

Answer field

Slide 11

Title: Alternative View


His negative interpersonal behaviors were likely to cause one or more of the following consequences in the workforce and organizational culture: resentment, fear, lack of trust, lack of respect, negative effect on interpersonal relationships, negative impact on employee loyalty, hindering or limiting collaboration and/or flow of information, difficulty in retaining talent.

Slide 12

Title:  Alternative View – Health of Culture

Do you think his negative interpersonal behavior contributed  in any way to the success of Apple and the health of its culture? Explain your answer.

Answer field

Slide 13

Title:  Alternative View – Health of Culture


It is not likely that negative interpersonal behaviors contribute to the success and health of an organization. As Wozniak stated, Jobs still could have achieved everything he achieved without having to terrorize others. Thus one could ask what more he could have achieved had he employed more positive interpersonal behaviors.

Slide 14

Title: Alternative view- Success

Do you think that the Apple workforce would have accepted his negative interpersonal behaviors if his ideas had not succeeded? Explain your answer.

Answer field

Slide 15

Title: Alternative view- Success


It is most reasonable to assume that the workforce would have been less tolerant of his behavior had his ideas not succeeded. The reason this is probable is because his ideas created success for the company and the people who worked there. This meant if they wanted to share in the success, they had to tolerate his behavior. Some people may even have overlooked his negative behaviors due to the success he created for the organization.

Slide 16

Title: Alternative View – Justification

Do you think his negative interpersonal behaviors were in any way justifiable? Explain your answer.

Answer field

Slide 17

Title: Alternative View – Justification


Poor treatment of others is never justifiable. Nor is treating others poorly in pursuit of a goal, no matter how lofty the goal. However, Jobs did succeed in creating a company that provides thousands of people with a livelihood. Note that while it is incorrect to reason that one should compromise proper treatment for financial benefits, the fact remains that Jobs had a poor interpersonal style but was hugely successful in making Apple the success it was and continues to be. Also notable is that Jobs had a complex interpersonal style because he was able to motivate people and get them to buy into his vision and ideas.

Slide 18

Title:  Alternative View – Health and Success of Apple

Do you think his negative interpersonal behaviors detracted from the health and success of Apple? Explain your answer.

Answer field

Slide 19

Title:  Alternative View – Health and Success of Apple


It is possible that they detracted from the health and success of Apple because of the negative impact on the people and culture. The question is, was it fundamentally necessary to treat people poorly in pursuit of success? The answer is no. Therefore, the same success could have been achieved without the negative treatment of others. By extension, how much more could have been achieved through the positive treatment of others and a healthier organizational culture? Could Jobs have left an even greater legacy than he did?

Slide 20

Title: Remediating Leadership Approach

Do you think that Jobs could have created equally successful changes, continual innovation, and success in Apple by rather embracing empathetic collaboration?

Answer field

Slide 21

Title: Remediating Leadership Approach


It is likely that Jobs could have created equally, if not more, successful changes, continual innovation, and success in Apple by embracing empathetic collaboration.


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