case study 2197

Organization and Management – MAN 3025 Case Assignment

Steve Jobs’s Personality & Attitudes Drove His Success

The Big Five personality dimensions are: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience. Extroversion refers to how outgoing, talkative, and sociable a person is. Agreeableness refers to how trusting and good natured one is. Conscientiousness refers to one’s dependability, responsibility and achievement orientation. Emotional stability refers to how relaxed or unworried one is. Lastly, openness to experience indicates how intellectual, imaginative, curious, and broadminded one is. Each of these dimensions can be used to assess job performance. The five traits that are important to understand behavior in organizations include locus of control, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-monitoring, and emotional intelligence. Each of these factors contributes to an employee’s job performance. These traits are important to managers who wish to understand the behaviors they see in the organization.

Walter Isaacson interviewed Steve Jobs as part of his work on writing Jobs’s biography. Jobs had an interesting resume that included working for Atari in its early years, co-founding Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, being ousted as Apple’s leader in 1985, a stint with Pixar Entertainment, returning to Apple in 1997 to not only rescue it from bankruptcy but to build it back to the world’s most valuable company by the time he died in October of 2011.

Jobs had a primary interest in building the best product and what the customer wanted, more than a focus on a lot of products and maximizing profits. For example, upon his return to the company in 1997 he reviewed the company’s product line and decided to reduce its focus to simple consumer and pro products that were either desktop or portable. He decided to cancel all other product lines, relying on his belief that “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

He was a relentless perfectionist who lived out his belief about focusing on doing a few things well. After addressing Apple’s problems, Jobs began taking his “top 100” people on a retreat each year. On the last day, he would stand in front of a whiteboard and ask, “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?”. As ideas came up, he would write them down—and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of 10. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three.”

Jobs also believed that in order to succeed, the company had to think into the future. For example, after the iPod became a huge success, Jobs spent little time relishing it and instead began to worry about what might endanger it. One possibility was that mobile phone makers would start adding music players to their handsets. So he cannibalized iPod sales by creating the iPhone. “If we don’t cannibalize ourselves, someone else will,” he said.

His personality was such that he drove people to accomplish the things they themselves would tell him were impossible. Colleagues called it his Reality Distortion Field, after an episode of Star Trek in which aliens create a convincing alternative reality through sheer mental force. An early example was when Jobs was on the night shift at Atari and pushed Steve Wosniak to create a game called Breakout. Wosniak said it would take months, but Jobs stared at him and insisted he could do it in four days. Wosniak knew that was impossible, but he ended up doing it.

Jobs commented that “I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them,” and that “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.”

Source: Excerpted from W. Isaacson, “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs,”

Harvard Business Review, April 2012, pp. 93–100.

Please read the case before attempting to answer the questions. When answering the questions, please make sure that you support your answers with the concepts in the text. Please view the rubric you will be graded on before completing the assignment.


  • Steve Jobs was a demanding perfectionist when it came to his business. In fact, the case recounts instances where Jobs would have his “top 100” people attend a retreat and they would decide on the ten things the company should focus on for the next year. This list eventually was narrowed down to just three after Jobs would “slash the bottom seven” ideas. Which of the Big Five personality dimensions does this type of behavior seem to be most related to?
  • Once the iPod became the huge success it was, Steve Jobs decided to cannibalize it by creating the iPhone. To cannibalize such a successful product is a gutsy move for a manager. What does Steve Jobs have a high degree of that enables him to make these moves?
  • Despite the fact that many of the people who worked for Steve Jobs would tell him something was impossible to do, he would push them to do it anyway. It appeared as if his belief was that anything was possible if you put your mind to it. What component of Jobs’s attitude toward accomplishing things does this seem to be related to?
  • Steve Jobs was a unique individual with some interesting quirks that drove him as a businessman. Based on what you have read in the case and know of Jobs, which of the following was most likely the primary factor in causing stress for Jobs?

Case Study Grading Rubric

Each item is rated on the following rubric.

5= Very poor

10 = Poor

15 = Adequate

20-30 = Good

25-50 = Excellent



1. Evidence of knowledge (organized flow of words, discussion flows well, no awkward pauses or confusion, evidence you read and researched case study)






2. Content (Response includes accurate and relevant information, appeared knowledgeable about the case and the topic discussed, tied content in to textbook.)






3. Writing (Response demonstrates correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation; complete sentences; correct use of capitalization.)






Total Score: ________ (sum of Items 1-3)


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