Discussion on a Leadership Activity

Leadership Activity 5: Northouse Chapters 7 & 8


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Instructions: Complete the questions below.  Be sure to elaborate and provide highly detailed responses.


This activity covers Chapters 7 and 8 from Northouse on transformational and LMX approaches to leadership.  To complete this class activity, you and your partner must watch this 25-minute video.



Brief Bio: Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

  • Born Feb. 24th 1955 of a father of Muslim Egyptian descent and an American mother.
  • Gave him up for adoption at birth. Parents later married and had a sister.
  • Adopted by American parents. He also has an adopted sister.
  • Enrolled in college but never finished. One particular course in calligraphy was the catalyst (as he credits) for his interest in graphical interphase and the PC and his view of beauty or aesthetics that was so important in making Apple what it is.
  • Founded Apple in late 70s when 21 years old Steve Wozniak was talked into developing and selling a computer by 16-year-old Jobs.
  • With co-founder Steve Wozniak designed, developed and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of PCs.
  • In 1983, Steve Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO, asking, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?
  • Power struggle with Sculley and board of directors; Ousted by Apple in 1985 (resigned, but it was forced on him)
  • Founded NeXT a computer platform development company.
  • Apple bought NeXT in 1996 and Job served as CEO of Apple from 1997-2011 when resigned due to illness.
  • NeXT platform served as basis for Mac OSX operating system.
  • Served at Chief Executive of Pixar and involved in bringing the company to success. (he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd. which was spun off as Pixar. His insistence on advancement and use of computer graphics in movies said to be responsible for Toy Story and many of the PIXAR movies following.)
  • CEO at Apple during the development of iPod, iPad, iPhone.
  • The day after his death Matt Lauer states that Steve Jobs was a great visionary who will be remembered for transforming the world and the way we think of it.
  • The day after his death Tom Brokaw states that he will be remembered 500 years from now as someone who changed the world through technology.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” Steve Jobs



Thought and Discussion Questions:

  1. In early 70s Steve had a job at Atari that involved creating circuit boards for the game Breakout. Atari had offered their employees a bonus of $100 for each chip that was eliminated in the Atari machine.  Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Steve Wozniak (who didn’t work at Atari) to split the bonus evenly if Wozniak could reduce the number of chips.  Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, which amazed Atari.  Wozniak states that Jobs told him Atari only gave him $700 and split that with him instead of the $5500 that Atari really gave Jobs.   In an interview on Today show with Steve Wozniak the day after Job’s death, Wozniak states that in learning to be a great leader Steve Job learned to develop his integrity and his values and ran Apple by communicating to others to believe in those values.  Think about other ways that Steve Jobs behaved early on in his life and later in his life.
  • Do you think that Steve Jobs was a transformational leader early in his life? What about later in his life? Explain your answer.
  • Is integrity necessary to be a transformational leader? How does integrity relate to the issue of “transformational leadership” vs. “pseudo-transformational leadership”?
  • What does this example say about how transformational leaders “manage meaning”?



  1. Recent research has suggested that successful people achieve success not only through their own motivation, but also usually through small advantages that they have had through their lives, and even those that accrue and are passed down over generations.  However, transformational leaders such as Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama, Walt Disney, and Steve Jobs actually overcame barriers such as tragedy, poverty, and lack of education to become huge successes and transformative individuals.
  • How might struggle play a role in the development of a transformational leader? How might it influence the behavior of a transformational leader?
  • What do you think this says about the importance of struggle in the development of leadership?


3) Fortune magazine wrote that Steve Jobs was “considered one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs” and Jeff Raskin, a former colleague, once said that Jobs “would have made an excellent king of France,” alluding to Jobs’ compelling and larger-than-life persona.  The authoritative biography on Jobs states that to Jobs, people were either “a genius or an ass_ _ _ _”.   He is also noted in the book as “structuring Apple around himself and his own perfectionism.”   He is characterized as a “great visionary who transformed the world, but one with a terrible dark side.” (Today show, Oct. 2011).  These things indicate that Jobs may have been difficult to work with and seems to support research on transformational leadership suggesting it might be related emotional instability and to the trait of narcissism.

  • Does this mean Steve Jobs was a ‘pseudo-transformational leader? Why or why not (use the behaviors of a pseudo-transformational leader in your book to defend your answer)? What danger do the types of traits Jobs had (larger than life, perfectionist, saw things in black and white) pose for transformational leadership and its effectiveness?  What are the possible advantages?


  1. Jobs started Apple computers in the late 1970s and was ousted a few years later (early 80s) by the board of directors and the CEO (who Jobs had recruited and hired). Slightly more than ten years later (1997) he came back as CEO and successfully oversaw the design, development, and marketing of products that changed the world. He remained CEO until 3 months before his death in 2011.
  • From watching the video, do you think that Steve learned anything during the time between being fired and returning?
  • Was he a transformational leader before he was ousted or only after he returned?
  • Was his return a function of luck or did Steve himself and his type of leadership influence his return? Explain why you think this.


  1. Steve Jobs was the person who dreamed of transforming the world with computers and technology, Steve Woziak was the person who eliminated the chips from the Atari game, and who actually developed the PC that was sold. Walt Disney dreamed of creating a place where adults and children could come together to play, but Roy Disney was the person who obtained the financing and saw the dream through.
  • What does this suggest about the true nature of leadership?
  • What does this mean for the development of leaders and leadership? Do you think leadership (even transformational leadership) usually occurs or comes from one person or multiple people? Why do you think this? How can transformational leadership be demonstrated in teams?



  1. Given the video, your readings, and the information above characterize Job’s leadership according to whether he displayed 1) the 4 I’s of transformational leadership. Discuss with your partner. Do they agree/disagree without?  Explain.



  1. Compare and contrast how you view yourself as a leader with how you view Steve Jobs as a leader. Identify at least one shared strength that you and Steve Jobs both possess and describe how you think that shared strength will help you in future leadership positions. Identify at least one shared weakness that you and Steve Jobs both possess and describe how you plan to overcome that shared weakness in future leadership positions.


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