Apple Change Management Case Study 

Apple is the world’s leading tech giant American multinational corporation. Some of you are aware of the fact that Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 1990s and has a limited market share. The successful change management and re-launch of Steve Jobs as the chairman and CEO of Apple saved the company from bankruptcy in the 1990s. Today, we’ll discuss the Apple change management case study; the company’s historical background, the leadership style of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook; and the successful transition of the leadership style of Apple.  

Historical Background of Apple

  • 1976 – Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak founded the tech company Apple
  • 1977 – Apple became incorporated and received its first investment of 250,000 USD from Mike Markkula
  • 1980 – Apple went public and sold 4.6 million shares with 22 dollars per share price
  • 1984 – Introduced Apple Macintosh, the first personal computer without a programming language
  • 1985 – Steve Jobs was removed from the Macintosh division and he resigned from the company
  • 1990 – Apple sales started declining
  • 1994 – IBM, Motorola, and Apple made an AIM alliance
  • 1997 – Steve Jobs rejoined the company only a few weeks before declaring bankruptcy
  • 1997 – Jobs launched the Apple Store web platform
  • 1999 – Apple launched the iBook laptop
  • 2000 – procured SoundJam MP and rebranded it as iTunes
  • 2001 – launched iPod
  • 2002 – introduced first iPhone
  • 2007 – Jobs rebranded the company as Apple Inc
  • 2011 – Steve Jobs resigned from his CEO position at Apple; Tim Cook replaced him as the CEO and chairman

Steve Jobs’s Leadership style 

Let’s discuss some of the main elements of the leadership style of Steve Jobs in the Apple change management case study; they’re as follows;

Massive Lay Off

When Steve Jobs rejoined the company, Apple was a week away from bankruptcy. He made the difficult decision of finishing 3000 jobs and canceling 70% of the company’s existing models. Jobs was aware of the fact that they were draining the company’s resources; causing the company’s losses. However, the strategic approach paid off, and his first year in power allowed the company to earn a profit of 309 million USD.

Autocratic A2

Many experts have pointed out the fact that Steve was following the Autocratic A2 leadership style and established the A2 culture of the company. In the Autocratic A2 leadership style, Steve wasn’t an authoritative figure; he used to consult with his employees and team members; gather information as much as he could; then make the final decision by himself. He was firm about his decisions.

Consultative Leadership Style

Steve Jobs was the co-founder and he spent his entire life building, saving, inventing, and re-inventing the Apple. He used to consult various issues with colleagues, groups, and team members; keep their suggestions in mind; and make the final decision by himself.


Steve Jobs was a vision leader; his strong leadership, commitment, and powerful vision helped the company Apple to become the tech giant brand of the world. His technology vision and innovative ideas reshaped the entire global tech industry.

Difficult and Creative Decisions

The massive layoff wasn’t an easy decision, Steve Jobs received a lot of criticism from the media and from their colleagues. But he wanted the best for the company; because there were limited resources left in the bank. Along with layoff, he also took another daring decision of canceling all the non-working products. As a result, his creative decisions helped the company to start growing and profiting under his leadership.

In fact, he laid the foundation of some new products and services that became the world’s top-selling products and services;

  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • iPod
  • Apple Store
  • iTunes

Challenges with the Autocratic Leadership Style 

The problem with autocratic leadership style is that it doesn’t fully utilize the potential of employees and team members in terms of their creative capabilities. However, it raises a serious question of how Steve Jobs’s autocratic leadership became successful and earned the company a global reputation.

Management experts have answered it by saying that there is no such thing as a right or wrong leadership style. Different leadership styles are useful at different times. Steve Jobs followed the right leadership style under the right circumstances at the right time; it became successful. However, it doesn’t mean that it would work for all organizations.

Change Management of Apple – Tim Cook Leadership Style 

After diagnosing with cancer; Steve Jobs resigned from his CEO position at Apple in 2011. Tim Cook took the role of CEO of Apple and he has been working under Jobs for years as the Chief Operating Officer; it was shoes to fill and a strong legacy to follow. He sent an email to all the employees after accepting the CEO’s role saying “nothing will change” in terms of the company’s strategic approach.

In fact, the leadership style of Tim Cook was completely different from that of Steve Jobs in the following ways;

Collaborative & Inspiration

Tim Cook was aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Steve Jobs leadership style; he knew the things that were working and that were slowing down the company’s decision-making; For instance, the sale of services and end-to-end supply chain sales. He followed the strategy of collaborating with all the employees and team members; inspiring them with right decisions.

Decentralized Power

Cook modified and improved the organizational structure by including autonomy and decentralized decision-making at different levels of the organization. It resulted in the form of smooth and speedy flow of operations.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Tim Cook took an important initiative in Apple’s first CSR (corporate social responsibility); it was completely against Steve Jobs’s leadership style. Many employees and colleagues consider Tim Cook a better leader than Jobs; because Cook helps you to grow as a human being. However, he focuses on becoming a transparent organization about the company’s operations; showing concerns and commitment to the people and the society as a whole.

Conclusion: Apple Change Management Case Study | Apple Leadership Style and Leadership Change of Apple 

After an in-depth study of Apple change management case study; we have realized that Apple is the world’s leading tech giant multinational company. If you are learning about the leadership style of Apple or the leadership change of Apple; then you should keep in mind the abovementioned elements; the leadership style of Steve Jobs; and the leadership change of Tim Cook of Apple.

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