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The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: Stories of Steve Jobs

Bengtsson, Amanda LU ; Jörnlid, Sofia LU and Lindskog, Malin LU (2016) FEKH49 20161
Department of Business Administration
Abstract
Title: The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: stories of Steve Jobs
Seminar date: 1 June 2016
Course: FEKH49, Degree Project Undergraduate level, Business Administration, Undergraduate level, 15 University Credit Points (UPC) or ECTS‐cr)
Authors: Amanda Bengtsson, Malin Lindskog and Sofia Jörnlid
Advisor/s: Sverre Spoelstra
Key words: Steve Jobs, Toxic Leadership, Charismatic Leadership, Transformational Leadership and heroic leadership
Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to study the thin line between toxic and transformational leadership. To explore this, the case and the narratives of Steve Jobs have been chosen to study. We believe that there are both similarities and contradictions between... (More)
Title: The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: stories of Steve Jobs
Seminar date: 1 June 2016
Course: FEKH49, Degree Project Undergraduate level, Business Administration, Undergraduate level, 15 University Credit Points (UPC) or ECTS‐cr)
Authors: Amanda Bengtsson, Malin Lindskog and Sofia Jörnlid
Advisor/s: Sverre Spoelstra
Key words: Steve Jobs, Toxic Leadership, Charismatic Leadership, Transformational Leadership and heroic leadership
Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to study the thin line between toxic and transformational leadership. To explore this, the case and the narratives of Steve Jobs have been chosen to study. We believe that there are both similarities and contradictions between the theories of transformational leadership and toxic leadership. For this reason we have chosen Steve Jobs, a business leader whom by many is regarded as transformational and charismatic, in certain approaches tends to be perceived as toxic or having toxic qualities as well. In this thesis therefore, we will investigate in what ways are Steve Jobs perceived and portrayed by the media as both a toxic leader and transformational leader.
Methodology: The scientific approach in this study is a hermeneutic method, which means that the focus is on the process of interpretation and understanding. The empirical data will be interpreted through the theoretical framework and analysed using storytelling and narrative method. The empirical data will be analysed ontologically, which means that interpretation of the empirical data is based on the different ways in which the world can be viewed.
Theoretical perspectives: The theoretical framework consists in particular of two main leadership concepts, first the notion of transformational leadership which focuses on leaders as something great followed by the second notion of toxic leadership which focuses on leaders are by definition bad and evil. We will also support these theories by presenting concept of heroic leadership and the great man and the Hitler problem.
Empirical foundation: The empirical data in this thesis is derived from traditional and social media and presents narratives of how Steve Jobs is perceived in media as a leader. The narratives are analysed and interpreted using the theoretical framework.
Conclusions: The conclusion of this thesis is that there is indeed a thin line between transformational and toxic leadership. The way that leaders within transformational and toxic leadership theory get their followers to follow them is in theory the same; namely through inspiring them through a common vision. Part of the definition of being transformational is that the leader is good, and part of the definition of being toxic is having bad intentions. What the case of Steve Jobs shows is that someone can be perceived as both transformational and toxic, depending on how the leader’s actions are interpreted.
The conclusion is that a leader can be considered transformational and toxic at the same time. Being considered transformational does not exclude the possibility of being considered toxic, and being considered toxic does not mean that you cannot be considered transformational. In Steve Jobs’ case it was all dependant on the beholder. Steve Jobs shows that there is a thin line between transformational and toxic leadership. (Less)
Popular Abstract (Swedish)
Sammanfattning

Examensarbetets titel: The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: stories of Steve Jobs
Seminariedatum: 1a juni 2016
Ämne/kurs: FEKH49, Examensarbete kandidatnivå i Organisation och Ledarskap, 15 högskolepoäng
Författare: Amanda Bengtsson, Malin Lindskog och Sofia Jörnlid
Handledare: Sverre Spoelstra
Nyckelord: Steve Jobs, toxiskt ledarskap, karismatiskt ledarskap, transformativt ledarskap och heroiskt ledarskap,
Syfte: Syftet med den här uppsatsen är att studera den tunna linjen mellan toxiskt ledarskap och transformativt ledarskap. För att undersöka detta har berättelser om hur Steve Jobs ledarskap framställts i media används. Vi anser att det finns både likheter och motsägelser... (More)
Sammanfattning

Examensarbetets titel: The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: stories of Steve Jobs
Seminariedatum: 1a juni 2016
Ämne/kurs: FEKH49, Examensarbete kandidatnivå i Organisation och Ledarskap, 15 högskolepoäng
Författare: Amanda Bengtsson, Malin Lindskog och Sofia Jörnlid
Handledare: Sverre Spoelstra
Nyckelord: Steve Jobs, toxiskt ledarskap, karismatiskt ledarskap, transformativt ledarskap och heroiskt ledarskap,
Syfte: Syftet med den här uppsatsen är att studera den tunna linjen mellan toxiskt ledarskap och transformativt ledarskap. För att undersöka detta har berättelser om hur Steve Jobs ledarskap framställts i media används. Vi anser att det finns både likheter och motsägelser mellan ledarskapsteorierna transformativt ledarskap och toxiskt ledarskap. Med bakgrund av detta har vi valt Steve Jobs, en företagsledare som av många anses vara tranformativ och karismatisk i vissa avseende även framställs som toxisk. I den här uppsatsen presenteras därför hur och på vilka sätt Steve Jobs är presenterad och illustrerad i media som både en transformativ ledare samt en toxisk ledare.
Metod: Den vetenskapligt förhållningssätt i denna studie är en hermeneutisk metod, vilket innebär att fokus ligger på processen för tolkning och förståelse. De empiriska data tolkas genom den teoretiska referensramen och analyseras med hjälp av berättande metod. Empiriska data kommer att analyseras ontologiskt, vilket innebär att en tolkning av det empiriska data är baserat på de olika sätt på vilka världen kan ses.
Teoretiska perspektiv: Den teoretiska ramen utgörs framför allt av två huvud koncept inom ledarskapsteori, först begreppet transformativt ledarskap som fokuserar på ledare som något överväldigat, följt av det andra begreppet toxisk ledarskap som fokuserar på ledare som per definition är dåliga och onda. Vi kommer också att stödja dessa teorier genom att presentera begreppen heroiskt ledarskap samt Hitler problemet.
Empiri: Empirin till den här uppsatsen är insamlad från traditionell och social media och omfattar citat gällande hur Steve Jobs ledarskap är framställd i media. Citaten är analyserade och tolkade utifrån det teoretiska ramverket.
Resultat: Resultatet av framställningen visar att det finns en tunn linje mellan transformativt ledarskap och toxiskt ledarskap. Transformativa ledare och toxiska ledare får följare på samma sätt enligt teorin, nämligen genom att inspirera genom en gemensam vision. Definitionen av transformativt ledarskap är delvis vikten av att ledaren är god och definitionen av en toxisk ledare är ledarens onda avsikter. Illustrationen av Steve Jobs visar att någon kan uppfattas som både tranformativ och toxisk, beroende på hur ledarens agerande tolkas av följarna. Slutsatsen är att en ledare kan vara både transformativ och toxisk samtidigt. En ledare som anses vara tranformativ utesluter inte möjligheten att den ledaren även är toxisk och tvärtom. Distinktionen är beroende av betraktarens åsikt. Steve Jobs visar att det är möjligt att vara både transformativ och toxisk, vilket visar på en tunn linje mellan transformativt ledarskap och toxiskt ledarskap. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Bengtsson, Amanda LU ; Jörnlid, Sofia LU and Lindskog, Malin LU
supervisor
organization
course
FEKH49 20161
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Steve Jobs, Toxic Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Charismatic Leadership and Heroic leadership
language
English
id
8888235
date added to LUP
2016-09-28 08:46:28
date last changed
2016-09-28 08:46:28
@misc{8888235,
  abstract     = {Title: The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: stories of Steve Jobs 
Seminar date: 1 June 2016 
Course: FEKH49, Degree Project Undergraduate level, Business Administration, Undergraduate level, 15 University Credit Points (UPC) or ECTS‐cr) 
Authors: Amanda Bengtsson, Malin Lindskog and Sofia Jörnlid
Advisor/s: Sverre Spoelstra
Key words: Steve Jobs, Toxic Leadership, Charismatic Leadership, Transformational Leadership and heroic leadership 
Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to study the thin line between toxic and transformational leadership. To explore this, the case and the narratives of Steve Jobs have been chosen to study. We believe that there are both similarities and contradictions between the theories of transformational leadership and toxic leadership. For this reason we have chosen Steve Jobs, a business leader whom by many is regarded as transformational and charismatic, in certain approaches tends to be perceived as toxic or having toxic qualities as well. In this thesis therefore, we will investigate in what ways are Steve Jobs perceived and portrayed by the media as both a toxic leader and transformational leader. 
Methodology: The scientific approach in this study is a hermeneutic method, which means that the focus is on the process of interpretation and understanding. The empirical data will be interpreted through the theoretical framework and analysed using storytelling and narrative method. The empirical data will be analysed ontologically, which means that interpretation of the empirical data is based on the different ways in which the world can be viewed. 
Theoretical perspectives: The theoretical framework consists in particular of two main leadership concepts, first the notion of transformational leadership which focuses on leaders as something great followed by the second notion of toxic leadership which focuses on leaders are by definition bad and evil. We will also support these theories by presenting concept of heroic leadership and the great man and the Hitler problem. 
Empirical foundation: The empirical data in this thesis is derived from traditional and social media and presents narratives of how Steve Jobs is perceived in media as a leader. The narratives are analysed and interpreted using the theoretical framework. 
Conclusions: The conclusion of this thesis is that there is indeed a thin line between transformational and toxic leadership. The way that leaders within transformational and toxic leadership theory get their followers to follow them is in theory the same; namely through inspiring them through a common vision. Part of the definition of being transformational is that the leader is good, and part of the definition of being toxic is having bad intentions. What the case of Steve Jobs shows is that someone can be perceived as both transformational and toxic, depending on how the leader’s actions are interpreted. 
The conclusion is that a leader can be considered transformational and toxic at the same time. Being considered transformational does not exclude the possibility of being considered toxic, and being considered toxic does not mean that you cannot be considered transformational. In Steve Jobs’ case it was all dependant on the beholder. Steve Jobs shows that there is a thin line between transformational and toxic leadership.},
  author       = {Bengtsson, Amanda and Jörnlid, Sofia and Lindskog, Malin},
  keyword      = {Steve Jobs,Toxic Leadership,Transformational Leadership,Charismatic Leadership and Heroic leadership},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The thin line between toxic leadership and transformational leadership: Stories of Steve Jobs},
  year         = {2016},
}