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What Apple's Steve Jobs Could Teach Aristotle


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Charisma... can be learned?!

In each scenario they looked at Jobs’ credibility in the situation (ethos), how he appealed to his audience’s emotions; and logos (pathos) and the extent to which he used logical arguments (logos).

Says Heracleous: “We found that the driving factor in Jobs’ rhetoric was his perceived ethos, which significantly influenced how he used logos and pathos.

“When ethos was low, high levels of pathos were employed by Jobs and low levels of logos, such as in the pre-trial interview with the SEC.

“When ethos was high, lower levels of pathos were used and higher logos, which is what happened at the digital conference, where he already had an admiring audience.”

The research explores how Jobs was able to deliver a constant set of messages or themes across the different scenarios, about his company’s products, future journey and exceptional people.

It finds that, in addition to his mix of ethos, pathos and logos, he employed rhetorical strategies such as amplification, repetition, or re-framing the discussion in a way that suited his goals, such as moving the tone of the CNBC interview from “businesses at war” to “business on a journey”.

Adds Heracleous:  “We found Jobs exhibited high proficiency in customising his rhetorical style to the broader contextual situation.“But simultaneously there were constant features in his rhetoric, in terms of central themes and root metaphors, indicating that an important skill of leadership may be the integration of continuity and customisation in leadership rhetoric.”

Heracleous, who has advised executives from corporations including IBM, Total, Rolls-Royce, KPMG, Standard Chartered, O2, and Bank of China and previously authored a case study entitled “Strategic Leadership And Innovation At Apple Inc,” believes that Jobs is a case study in a leader’s belief in his own charisma.

“Our findings suggest that charisma is not an ineffable, magical quality as classically understood, but can rather be seen as a consequence of the relationships among leader, audience and context,” he says.“Leaders can follow Jobs’ example and try to understand the level of their perceived ethos, how credible they are with that audience.

“Then they can gauge the appropriate mix of pathos and logos in their rhetoric; and the extent to which they should employ rich, figurative language”

“Jobs did not exhibit a single rhetorical style, but rather altered it depending on the situation, and yet still managed to deliver a constant message to support his company’s strategy.

“Further, Jobs’ rhetoric drew from figurative language, using stories and metaphors to emphasise his messages. Stories and metaphors are more memorable than statistics, which accounts for his effectiveness in delivering memorable messages.

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