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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma: A Comparison of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

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Charisma is an essential part of transformational leadership; however, there are hardly any reliable ways of predicting leader charisma in an organizational context. Using a qualitative-descriptive study of two leaders—Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, we compare their charisma and impression management styles. Through a content analysis of their public speeches, we determine their motives. We find evidence to validate our proposition that a high power motive and acquisitive impression management techniques are related to charisma. Specifically we characterize Steve Jobs as a personal-power manager and Bill Gates as an achievement oriented manager. Implications for practice are discussed.
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Article
Leader Motives, Impression
Management, and Charisma
A Comparison of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates*
Tanvi Shah
Zubin R. Mulla
Abstract
Charisma is an essential part of transformational leadership; however, there are hardly any reliable
ways of predicting leader charisma in an organizational context. Using a qualitative-descriptive study of
two leaders—Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, we compare their charisma and impression management styles.
Through a content analysis of their public speeches, we determine their motives. We find evidence to
validate our proposition that a high power motive and acquisitive impression management techniques
are related to charisma. Specifically we characterize Steve Jobs as a personal-power manager and Bill
Gates as an achievement oriented manager. Implications for practice are discussed.
Keywords
Motives, impression management, charisma, content analysis
Charisma is the single most important predictor of positive leadership outcomes (Lowe, Kroeck and
Sivasubramaniam, 1996). Despite the importance of the leader’s charisma in research and for
organizational outcomes, there are very few ways of predicting charisma and hence selecting charismatic
leaders. The pioneering studies of charismatic leadership and effective managers have investigated the
motivations of leaders like their needs for achievement, power and affiliation (House, Spangler and
Woycke, 1991; McClelland and Burnham, 1976/2003). Other studies of transformational leaders have
looked at abilities like self-confidence, dominance, feminine attributes, pragmatism and nurturance
(Ross and Offermann, 1997); emotional quotient, self-awareness (Sosik and Megerian, 1999); internal
locus of control (Howell and Avolio, 1993); proactive personality (Bateman and Crant, 1993; Crant and
Bateman, 2000); and cognitive skills (Sashkin, 1988). Still other studies have identified relationships
between transformational leadership and the leaders’ values (Krishnan, 2001); moral reasoning (Turner
et al., 2002); and ethical preferences (Banerji and Krishnan, 2000). In this study, we compare the motives
of two prominent leaders—Steve Jobs and Bill Gates using a content analysis tool developed by David
G. Winter, and find that high power motive is related to charisma.
Management and Labour Studies
38(3) 155–184
© 2013 XLRI Jamshedpur, School of
Business Management
& Human Resources
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/0258042X13509736
http://mls.sagepub.com
*This article is based on the first author’s Master’s dissertation completed at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai,
Maharashtra, India.
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156 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
Moreover, we find that acquisitive impression management techniques—namely, ingratiation, self-
promotion, intimidation and exemplification help in building the charisma of the leader and not defen-
sive techniques. We emphasize the need for companies to hire impression management consultants in
order to ensure that their leaders are able to create a heroic image of themselves to the world. This is
particularly important for public companies as such perceptions have an impact on the market valuation
of the company. Moreover, these findings have implications for human resources managers in the area
of selection. We propose the use of a scoring tool for interview responses of candidates to discern their
motive profiles, drawing from Winter (1991a).
Motives
Henry A. Murray, a leading proponent of motivational psychology (McClelland, 1951) expanded the
study of motives by classifying them as primary/biological and secondary motives. His most significant
contribution was enlisting 17 secondary motives such as achievement, aggression, dominance and nur-
turance, which, according to him, shape human personality and drive behaviour (Morgan et al., 1986).
Motivation, simply put, ‘is what “moves” people to do things they do’ (Ciccarelli and Meyer, 2006).
Motivation theorists held that motives are ‘tensional states’ that ‘energise’ a person/other organism
whereby he/she/it strives to restore the equilibrium (McClelland et al., 1953, pp. 7–8). Thus, motive was
considered a state wherein a deficit or a tension is created within a person. This tensional state energizes
a person—whereby he/she strives to restore the equilibrium, i.e. the concept of ‘homeostasis’ (Ciccarelli
and Meyer, 2006) comes into play, the biological equivalent of the thermostat. Motives are energisers to
the extent they ‘activate a habit’ (Brown and Jacobs, 1949). McClelland et al. (1953) extended the work
of Murray and proposed that three main motives, namely need for achievement, need for power and need
for affiliation, drive leadership behaviour.
Power Motive
According to Veroff (1957), as cited in McClelland (1987), the goal of power motive is ‘exerting influ-
ence’. McClelland (1987) includes controlling ‘the means to influence others’ (p. 269) also, in the ambit
of this motive. People with a high need for Power, n (Pow), desire to influence the behaviour or emotions
of others. These are people who continuously endeavour to ‘enhance their prestige or reputation’ (Winter,
1992, p. 265). This motive is characterized by a desire to maintain and enhance power and influence on
others as well as to consolidate a position of power. These persons not only hope to acquire a good stan-
ding in society, but also simultaneously fear a loss of such standing and reputation. Some of these people
are motivated by affecting not just a few others, but the community, society, nation or the world at large.
They tend to derive pleasure and reward in such impact (Schultheiss, 2007). Such persons express ‘a
power concern through strong forceful actions’ (Smith, 1992, p. 303). In trying to control or regulate the
behaviour of others, such persons tend to provide unsolicited help, support or advice (Smith, 1992).
Drawing from McClelland et al.(1953), Morgan et al. (1986) and Winter (1992), in the organizational
context, it can be stated that people with a high need for power would be characterized by four traits.
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 157
First, they strive to reach organizational positions that provide them a chance to have an impact on
others. Second, they indulge in politics and power play within the organization in order to acquire and
maintain over time a position of power. Third, they endeavour to create a favourable impression on both
superiors and subordinates as well as external agencies. Finally, they take up roles as mentors to other
employees to influence and affect them by providing advice or help.
Achievement Motive
McClelland et al. (1953) defines achievement motive or need for achievement or n(Ach) as the ‘success
in competition with some standard of excellence’ (p. 110). People with a high need for achievement are
perpetually engaged in competitive activities and ‘winning or doing better than or as well as someone’
(McClelland et al., 1953, p. 111) is their primary concern. This competition may or may not be explicitly
stated. In cases where this motive is explicit, people tend to use adjectives of degree like faster, best etc.
This depicts an evaluation of performance (McClelland et al., 1953). It may be implicit in that the person
shows ‘concern over goal attainment’ or performs ‘instrumental activities that show desire to complete
(a task) successfully’ (McClelland et al., 1953, p. 112). However, in some cases, competition may be
missing, and the person may be concerned only about his/her own success in achieving a certain standard
of excellence. At the same time, this does not mean that a person high on achievement motive will
always be successful. It does however mean that success is important to such a person and inability to
achieve goals causes distress and feelings of failure. Moreover, people with unique accomplishments are
considered to be high on n(Ach) as it is assumed that they would experience feelings of failure if the goal
is not met (McClelland et al., 1953).
In the organizational context, a person with a high need for Achievement would set lofty targets for
himself and others, and put in best effort to achieve it; penalize others for their failures and be grieved by
personal failure; and develop situations of competition where actually team work may be more critical.
Affiliation Motive
Persons high on affiliation motive tend to affiliate, or ‘to connect one’s self or associate one’s self
(Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913) with others. Other people are very important to such
persons. According to French (1956), as cited in Smith (1992), persons with a high need for affiliation
would prefer working with their friends rather than with experts in that field. These persons prefer to
spend time with others, not just at work but even otherwise, rather than being alone (Wong and
Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). They attach significance to happiness (McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982), to
peace in the world and to true friendship (Rokeach, 1973 as cited in McClelland, 1987). According to
French (1958b), as cited in Smith (1992), people with high n (Aff) prefer getting feedback on how well
the group is performing rather than on how well the work is being performed or on the extent of goal
achievement.
Such persons may, in the organizational context get along very well, both with subordinates and supe-
riors; face problem in providing honest feedback to others, and deal with other such difficult situations
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158 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
in which it is likely that the feelings of others may be hurt; and enable the creation and maintenance of a
robust informal culture within the organization.
Charisma and Charismatic Leadership
Charismatic Leaders inspire followers to go beyond the call of their duties and even make personal
sacrifices in the interest of some larger purpose (Weber, 1947). Weber explains that the charismatic
leader’s ‘transcendental mission or course of action may (or may not) be in itself appealing to the
potential followers, but which is acted upon because the followers believe their leader is extraordinarily
gifted’ (Dow, 1969, p. 307). This tends to point to the fact that the leader inspires them more greatly than
the purpose itself. These leaders influence followers in ways that are ‘quantitatively greater and
qualitatively different’ (House et al., 1991) from others, often resulting in emotional attachment of the
followers to their leader. House (1977, pp. 194–203) identified five sets of behaviours that distinguish
charismatic leaders. These are effective role modelling, behaviours creating impressions of success and
competence, articulation of ideological goals, communication of high expectations plus confidence in
followers and motive arousing behaviours.
For the purpose of this study, the customers of the organization and members of the public are con-
sidered as followers of the leader, and thus, the significance of charisma of the leader acquires even
greater significance. This is because at a distance followers form a perception of the leader based on his/
her public appearances, wherein leaders can attract and charm followers through inspiring followers and
creating a vision of an idealized future for all to see, both of which are aspects of charismatic leadership.
Impact of Leader’s Motives on Charisma
Several theorists and researchers have concluded that the motives of leaders affect their performance
(House, Spangler and Woycke, 1991) and success (Cummins, 1967; McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982 and
others). According to research done by motivation theorists, managers with a high need for achieve-
ment succeed in entrepreneurial roles, and roles such as setting up of new, small businesses etc. or as
individual contributors (McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982). Cummins (1967) and Varga (1975), in two
separate studies found that executives that are more successful scored higher on power motivation
than the ones who were less successful. According to research exploring possible relationship between
motives, charisma and effective leadership, a certain profile called the ‘leadership motive profile’
(House, Spangler and Woyce, 1991) is more conducive to effectiveness of leaders. This includes a
moderate-to-high need for power (Cummins, 1967), high activity inhibition and a low need for affiliation
(Varga, 1975; McClelland and Burnham, 1976; Winter, 1978; McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982).
This profile can be further elaborated as one characterized by an interest in influencing and impacting
others, and often regulating the behaviours of others, creating powerful networks and playing the
influencing game. However, the expression of this need for power is tempered by self-control, i.e.,
activity inhibition (measured as the number of ‘not’ divided by the total number of words in the passage)
preventing any impulsive decision-making, and groupthink (Fodor and Smith, 1982). The concept of
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 159
‘responsible leadership’ (Winter, 1991) comes into play with the moderating effect of this activity
inhibition on the need for power. Leaders with high activity inhibition ‘use power to achieve institutional
rather than personal goals’ (House et al., 1991). Activity inhibition is measured as the frequency of use
of the word ‘not’, considered a measure of self-control (McClelland and Boyatzis, 1982). Similarly,
House and Howell (1992) concluded that ‘personality traits are very likely to be antecedents of
charismatic leadership’ (p. 102). Having conducted an extensive review of past literature, they contend
that a high need for power is indicative of a charismatic leader. In as early as 1976, House had built a
theory to suggest that one of the traits that differentiate a charismatic leader from others is ‘a high need
to have influence over others’ (House, 1977, p. 194).
Impression Management Styles
Impression management or dramaturgy is an ‘attempt (by persons) to influence the impressions other
people form of them’ (Gardner, 1992). This includes directing certain behaviours towards others to
‘maintain desired perceptions of themselves’ (Gardner and Martinko, 1988b). Although decision-making
should be based on information and facts, in dynamic business situations, managers need to function
under the premise of incomplete information. Such quick decisions and spontaneous actions necessitate
that managers ‘form impressions that serve as the foundation for later inferences’ (Gardner, 1992). The
success of managers, to some degree, depends on their prowess in managing impressions of themselves
(Gardner, 1992). The key performance elements that form part of impression management are the actor,
the audience, the stage, the script, the performance and the reviews (Gardner, 1992). Actors can ‘set the
stage’, or in other words, manipulate the situation, in order to meet their objectives (Gardner, 1992).
Over time, a set of expectations develops from a given familiar situation. Actors may orchestrate their
performance in case of less familiar situations.
Other than the six assertive impression management techniques proposed in the model of dramaturgy
(Gardner, 1992 and Gardner and Avolio, 1998), for the purpose of this study, we have drawn from the
review of impression management literature by Sharma and Grant (2011) and included other impression
management strategies as suggested by the authors in their comprehensive model.
Ingratiation is an attempt to become more likeable to a target; verbal flattery, compliments, conformity,
smiles and sometimes, even artificial behaviour such as dressing up well is used to positively impress
upon the target. Self-promotion can be done by self-enhancement and entitlements. Self-enhancement
involves highlighting one’s desired attributes and portraying these in a highly positive way, while
entitlement is ‘used to maximize the... apparent responsibility for positive outcomes’ (Gardner, 1992,
p. 38) that the actor holds. Intimidation is also used as an impression management technique, in cases
when one party needs to create fear of oneself in others, in situations when the target is either unable to
or has no desire to retaliate and the intimidator is not concerned with maintaining relationship with the
target. Exemplification involves portraying oneself as a role model. Leading by example through display
of personal integrity, a willingness to take risks, and make personal sacrifices for the good of the
organization is characteristic of exemplary acts. Supplication is typically a last resort impression
management technique, wherein, the actor with an actual or perceived lack of skill tries to invoke pity in
the mind of the audience, who is a person with the necessary skill at his/her disposal. This, however,
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160 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
makes the actor vulnerable and at the mercy of the audience. Face saving is used by actors facing a
predicament wherein they attempt to defend themselves by pleading innocence.
Setting the Stage is another technique for managing impressions. According to Pfeffer (2010), setting
the stage for the performance by the leader is critical. It symbolizes power and status, and can be used to
influence the audience. According to Sharma and Grant (2011) the stage, where the leader performs and
interacts with his audience, is divided into back stage and front stage, and the act must be prepared and
performed seamlessly, i.e. stage management should be practiced to ‘cultivate and maintain the leader’s
charismatic image’ (p. 5). This theory suggests that there is a lot of secretive information that is available
back stage, which if gets leaked out to the audience may ruin the social character of the actor, if there is
a dissonance between the actor’s actual actions and the actions of the portrayed character. Moreover, a
faux paus when on the front stage may create similar effects. Sharma and Grant (2011) suggest a three-
pronged approach for stage management. First, impression management in the form of ‘dramaturgical
loyalty’ (p. 8) is required to ensure that the supporting cast does not leak any back stage information.
Second, ‘dramaturgical discipline’ (p. 8) is essential to avoid faux paus on the front stage. Third, the
actors and supporting cast need to exercise some foresight in being prepared for the unexpected and the
contingencies that may arise in the course of the performance. This is termed as ‘dramaturgical
circumspection’ (p. 8).
Impact of Leader’s Impression Management on Charisma
Weber (1947) emphasized the importance of impression management and spoke of the ‘proof that the
leader is required to provide of his extraordinary powers to the followers (House, 1977). House (1997)
states:
It is entirely possible that charismatic leaders present themselves as highly condent and as having a strong
conviction in the moral righteousness of their beliefs but do not indeed believe in either themselves or their
beliefs. Some leaders may thus have charismatic effects because of their ability to act as though they have such
condence and convictions (p. 193).
The assertion made by Gabriel (2004) with regard to ‘stretching the truth’ has been quoted in Sharma
and Grant (2011) as ‘the truth of stories lies in their meaning, not in their accuracy.’ According to Weber
(1977), charismatic leaders focus on ‘image building’ to ‘create the impression of competence and suc-
cess’ (p. 197). Theory suggests that ‘idealized influence’ and ‘inspirational motivation’ (Bass and Avolio,
1990, 1994), elements of charismatic leadership, also involve impression management (Gardner and
Cleavenger, 1998).
In a research conducted by Gardner and Cleavenger (1998), a significant and positive correlation was
found between exemplification and attributed charisma. In other words, the research showed that leaders
who engage in exemplary deeds tend to be viewed as charismatic leaders. Intimidation, another impres-
sion management strategy, was found to be negatively and significantly correlated to charisma. The
research results also led to the conclusion that self-promotion is negatively and significantly correlated
to leader’s charisma. On the other hand, ingratiation was found to be positively related to charisma.
Ingratiation is seen to foster a charismatic image, as friendly, warm behaviour towards the followers will
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 161
endear the leader to the followers. Social skills required by a charismatic leader like smiling at people,
complimenting them etc. are done by someone engaging in ingratiation. Research, thus, clearly shows
that most impression management strategies help leaders elicit attributions of charisma, i.e., to say that
in the minds of the followers, these strategies tend to be associated with charisma and help foster a char-
ismatic image of the leader in the minds of people.
House (1977), in describing the behaviour of Charismatic Leaders contends that these leaders behave
in a manner they want their followers to behave. In doing this, they act as role models for the followers.
It can thus be argued that exemplification as an impression management strategy would be often used by
charismatic leaders. Fodor and Farrow (1979) argue that individuals with a high need for power exhibit
more ingratiation than others.
Method
We used a qualitative-descriptive research design to delve into the lives of two business leaders based on
information available from secondary sources to bring out the vivid differences in the leadership styles—
specifically impression management strategies used by the two leaders. Leader motives were measured
using content analysis of their speeches available; to discern the motive profile of the two leaders. The
perceived charisma of the leaders was gauged from the qualitative analysis of articles, books and
newspaper reports about the two leaders. The research technique is in line with that of Trice and Beyer
(1986) wherein the proposed theory of the researchers was validated through field data on two leaders.
Drawing from their methodology, we describe in organizational terms two cases of leaders in which
perceived charisma in the eyes of followers was more and less. This was done to not just help
validate our hypotheses regarding leader motives and perceived charisma, but also to identify and
account for the mechanism that comes to play in operationalizing this process. Implications for managers
and organizations have also been drawn.
Sampling
The leaders who are the subjects of our study are both founders of successful technology based
organizations and have been considered to be at the forefront of the technology industry for almost four
decades. William Henry Gates or Bill Gates, the first subject, founded Microsoft Corporation in 1975
that operates in computer software. A year later, in 1976, Steven Paul Jobs or Steve Jobs, the second
subject of the study, founded Apple Computers Inc. that operates in computer hardware and software.
Both had their visions and they build successful corporations around these.
The two leaders were specifically chosen because they are well-known public figures with
enough material about them available in the public domain; there are several similarities between the
two (enlisted below); a preliminary review of literature on the two leaders revealed that the philo-
sophies of the two leaders in the way they run their companies is quite different; and, both are
considered successful leaders and are often considered synonymous with the organizations that they
have built.
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162 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
The lives of Gates and Jobs have several similarities. Born in 1955, both of them dropped out of
school, though the reasons were very different for the two. Both Gates and Jobs founded technology-
based companies—Microsoft Corporation and Apple Computers Inc. respectively in mid 1970s with
co-founders Paul Allen and Steve Wozniak respectively. Moreover, both have been subjects of substan-
tial media attention, through interviews, biographies and films made on them and their organizations.
Interestingly, a movie called Pirates of Silicon Valley chronicles the rise of the two organizations built by
the two leaders through their inceptions to 1997.
Although both Gates and Jobs experimented with technology and entrepreneurship during the same
decade, their backgrounds and personalities were vastly different. Gates came from a wealthy back-
ground; son of a prominent lawyer and a civic leader, he attended one of Seattle’s finest private school.
Unlike Gates who came from a family of well-educated and accomplished professionals, Jobs was given
up for adoption to a high school dropout mechanic and his bookkeeper wife. Nonetheless, Jobs adoptive
parents stretched their means to provide education to him. The difference in their personalities is
even starker; Gates was a pragmatist, and Jobs, a romantic. Unlike Jobs, Gates had excellent analytical
abilities and was good at computer coding. Jobs, on the other hand, had an intuitive knack of making
technology more user-friendly and the design more beautiful and elegant (Isaacson, 2011).
The difference in their personalities also reflected in their philosophies of business. While Jobs was a
perfectionist and an artist, who was focussed on creating beautiful products with integrated hardware and
software, Gates, analysing technology and business more practically, partnered with other technology
companies and licensed Microsoft’s operating system and software to several manufacturers. This, in
turn, translated into the vision statements that the two companies worked towards. Microsoft’s vision read
‘a personal computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software’. On the other hand,
Jobs strived to create ‘great tools for people who’re out to change the world’ (MacWorld Expo, 1997). For
Steve Jobs, it was about a passion for making great products, not just profitable ones (Isaacson, 2011).
Data Collection Methods
The video clippings of public appearances made by the two leaders (five each of Bill Gates and Steve
Jobs and one combined interview of the two) were content analysed by a single scorer and scored for
power motive, achievement motive and affiliation motive. The choice of video clippings was made over
any other medium of communication used by these leaders due to the following reason—these public
speeches were delivered to an audience of followers directly or indirectly (i.e., press statements were
excluded) and (even if the speech is written by a speech writer) the personality of the leader, his impres-
sion management styles etc. come to play here (Bligh and Robinson, 2010).
Each video was divided into 15-second frames and alternate frames were scored for motives (Winter,
1991a). It was a conscious endeavour to include similar videos of both leaders, spanning the lifetime of
the leaders. For instance, the final sample includes an address by the leaders to a college gathering of
graduate students, a product launch, an interaction with their employees, an early video of the 1980s and
a press interview. Moreover, a common interview wherein both leaders participated was also content
analysed for this purpose. A detailed table showing the assortment of videos analysed for this study is
given in Table 1.
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 163
As suggested by Winter (1991a), we scored only the meaning of the content of the clippings,
without inferring otherwise and attaching deeper meaning to the words. The context was used
only to understand the meaning of the words or phrases spoken. Since video content was used, any clear
(non-canned) response of the audience to actions or words of the leader was scored. For example, hoot-
ing and clapping by audience to a joke or a simple appearance of the leader was scored for power
imagery.
The data in collection for gauging the perceived charisma of the leader in the eyes of the follower was
done through a qualitative analysis of videos, newspaper clippings, articles and books available on the
two leaders.
The tool used to score the speeches for this study is the Manual for Scoring Motive Imagery in
Running Text (Winter, 1991a). The scorer acquired a 91 per cent reliability before conducting the final
scoring (a 90 per cent reliability is suggested).
In addition to this, some of the videos were transcribed into text and were analysed using the Linguistic
Analysis and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, Booth and Francis, 2007), a text analysis software which
calculates the degree to which people use different categories of words in a given text. The LIWC soft-
ware provided scores on the use of ‘negations’ such as the words ‘no’, ‘not’, and ‘never’. Following
House, Spanger and Woycke (1991), we used the frequency of occurrence of these words as indicating
activity inhibition.
Analysis Technique
Content Analysis, which has been used in this study to score leader motives, as a technique was first used
in the eighteenth century. In the last century, the use of content analysis has gained momentum and it has
started being used in Psychology, Anthropology, History and Education (Krippendorf, 1980). Today,
Content Analysis is one of the most important research techniques in Social Science Research—it helps
understand persons and events not just as a function of the linguistic interpretations of the message, but
as the ‘symbolic phenomena’ (p. 10) linked to their message. Specifically in the case of Psychology,
Content analysis technique started being used for the following purposes relevant to our research, namely
analysis of verbal records to explore motivational, psychological and personality characteristics, and
Table 1. List of Videos Scored for Motives
Steve Jobs Bill Gates
Name Year Duration Frames Name Year Duration Frames
Common Interview* 2007 01:29:04 140 Common Interview* 2007 01:29:04 139
Stanford Speech* 2005 15:05 57 Harvard Speech* 2007 0:26:00 66
Thoughts on Life* 1995 01:54 8 Introducing Vista* 2006 03:00 12
The First Macintosh* 1984 10:15 15 Intro of Windows* 1985 03:40 15
Young Vibrant Jobs* 1983 09:55 29 Hello, I’m Bill Gates* 1990 01:01 4
Rare footage 1980 23:00 89 History of Microsoft* 1980 02:00 8
Note: * Transcriptions of these speeches were used for analysis with LIWC2007.
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164 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
construction of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) wherein content analysis was used as a secondary
technique applied to open-ended questions (Krippendorf, 1980). In our research, Content Analysis is the
appropriate technique as we are analysing verbal records of leaders to determine their motivational char-
acteristics; this has been followed by several social science researchers (Winter, 1987; House and Howell,
1992). Moreover, the specific tool (Winter, 1991a) used by us scoring has been adapted from the original
scoring systems for scoring these motives for TAT participants.
As suggested by Krippendorf (1980), in this research content analysis has been used as a part of larger
research efforts, wherein a section of data has been content analysed to gather data on one variable
(independent variable) of the hypotheses. This study involves the use of case study method of research
analysis involving analysis of longitudinal data from 1980 to the present. A simple average of the motive
scores of each video was taken to arrive at the final motive score of each leader.
The charisma of the two leaders was assessed in terms of the opinions on the charisma of the two
leaders held by the public in the form of posts on internet Web log, and authors and biographers.
Moreover, public information in the form of press news pieces, research articles and biographies on the
two leaders has been researched to understand the charisma of the leaders against the theoretical perspec-
tives on charisma.
Results
The charisma of the two leaders—Gates and Jobs has been assessed drawing interconnections of
instances from their lives with literature on charismatic leadership and drawing from what has been said
and written about them in media and the masses. We have studied the personality of the leader and the
perceived charisma of the leader in the minds of the followers, taking followers as the customers of
the two companies—Microsoft and Apple as well as general public, including opinion makers.
Weber’s (1947) conception of a charismatic leader having extraordinary qualities and a transcendental
vision that result in emotional attachment of followers to their leader is analysed for both Gates and Jobs.
Steve Jobs’s Charisma
Jobs’ vision of creating great tools for people who are out to change the world (Mac World Expo, 1997),
on the face value, cannot be termed as transcendental, at least to customers. It may have been so to the
technology experts and software and hardware developers, employees or otherwise. However, the
accompanying elaboration provided by Jobs to create products that were years ahead of their times in
order to amplify human capability of people who think ahead of their times, does strike a chord in even
the minds of the public.
He never accepted no for an answer and continually pushed his team to strive for the best. Fortunately,
for him, he had the extraordinary knack of selecting just the right people at Apple, brilliant at their work
and with inquisitive minds of innovators. With this ferocious drive and a passion for perfection, Jobs is
credited to have revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones,
tablet computing and digital publishing (Isaacson, 2011). Another quality that endeared him to the public
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 165
was his excellent presentation skills, coupled with an ‘intuitive sense of how to stroke excitement,
manipulate the competitive instincts of journalists’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. 185). He would hold pre-launch
private displays of Apple products for key journalists; even there he would be in his showman mode
‘covering the new gadgets with cloths and then uncovering them... (With) a gleam in his eye and passion
in his voice’ (Mossberg, 2011). He was instrumental in energizing his employees through his words
during Apple keynotes. One of the tactics used by him included, use of “us-versus-them references”
(Pfeffer, 2010, p. 143). First, the external threat or the enemy was IBM and later, it became
Microsoft (Pfeffer, 2010). In a video spoof of the relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, a
character from one of the Xbox games, talking about Jobs, says to Gates, ‘He needs you; without an
enemy, he’s nothing’. To this, Jobs agrees and confesses, ‘It’s true... I need a big, giant nerd to keep me
going; and Bill; you’re the biggest, giantest nerd I ever met’ (Faure-Brac, 2010). Although an exaggeration
of real life, this gives us a clear indication of the perception of Steve Jobs that the public has of him.
Above all, he stands as a visionary and ‘the ultimate icon of inventiveness, imagination, and sustained
innovation’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. xix). The emotional attachment that the customers and other followers
had with Jobs was evident at the time of his death in October 2011 when iPhone-lit vigils were held at
San Francisco, and people across the globe flocked to Apple stores and placed apples and flowers as a
sign of respect and remembrance to Jobs (Bass et al., 2011).
Luck (1978) contended that charismatic leaders where characterized by narcissism, impulsiveness
and cyclic behaviours. Jobs narcissism was well known and comes across often in media as well as in
research. Maccoby (2004) in his article on Narcissistic Leaders cites the example of Steve Jobs as a
narcissistic leader with an abrasive personality. When Gil Amelio became the CEO of Apple in 1996,
Jobs paid him a visit and reportedly exclaimed, ‘There’s only one person who can rally the Apple troops’.
He narcissistically continued, ‘...only one person who can straighten out the company’ (Isaacson, 2011,
p. 297). Jobs’ girlfriend of over half a decade, Tina Resde asserted that Jobs was a very self-centred per-
son and suffered from a ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. 266). His impulsiveness
was gathered by not just incidents of his life, but also from the analysis of his handwriting by Handwriting
University International that claims that the right slant if his handwriting shows that he has an impulsive
attitude. His impulsiveness, coupled with the way he would distort reality, made him extremely unpre-
dictable. The Macintosh team was well aware of Steve’s cyclic behaviours. He was known to sway
erratically between ecstasy and depression. He is said to rubbish ideas of his employees and a few days
later he would walk upto them and narrate the same idea, claiming it as his own (Isaacson, 2011).
Steve Jobs exuded confidence right from his speeches and interviews during the 1980s down to 2011.
In the Stanford Commencement Address in 2007, he shared that even after his devastating and public
ousting from the company he founded; he was determined to continue looking for opportunities.
‘(Although) the focus of my entire adult life was gone... I still loved what I did’. A self-assured smile and
confident gait (House, 1977) also add to the perception of charisma, which accentuated Jobs’ charisma
in the eyes of his followers. He was also dominating and overpowering in nature as can be seen during
the joint public appearance of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at an interview, wherein when Gates was asked
a question, Jobs interrupted him in the midst of an answer and narrated his own version of the story, start-
ing off by saying ‘Let me... let me tell this story’, drawing a huge applause from the audiences. Moreover,
his dominating style was much talked about by his employees at Apple. Despite not being fluent in cod-
ing and software development like his Macintosh team, Jobs would often come to sit with them while
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166 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
they were working and contend that what they were creating wasn’t fast enough, was too big and that it
should be half the existing size, without understanding the challenges of the existing technology
(Isaacson, 2011).
The charismatic style of leadership of Steve Jobs finds abundant mention in press articles and internet
blog postings (HBS Press Release, 2011; Healy, 2011; Palmer, 2011; Perenson, 2011; Stone and Burrows,
2011; Strukhoff, 2011 and others). A news piece carried by Bloomberg touted Steve Jobs as ‘the most
charismatic chief executive officer in business history’ (Stone and Burrows, 2011). Such was his appeal,
that one article on the Cloud Computing Journal read, ‘In the performing arts, charisma is valued.
It separates mere technical brilliance from the sublime. In politics, it is dangerous. And in business, cha-
risma will forever be known as “Jobsian”’ (Strukhoff, 2011). According to Perenson (2011) of PC World,
Steve Jobs showmanship is class apart, and is the reason for his ‘cult following’. According to the 1996
PBS documentary, ‘Triumph of the Nerds’, Larry Tessler, an Apple employee commented, ‘When I
wasn’t sure what the word charisma meant, I met Steve Jobs and then I knew’ (PBS, 1996). Another
Apple employee, Bob Metcalfe commented, ‘Steve Jobs is on my eternal hero list; there is nothing he
can do to get off it’ (PBS, 1996). The death of Steve Jobs in October 2011 escalated the quantum of web
log comments posted about him manifold. One of the comments posted read, ‘Business leaders don’t
often come to have that sort of cultural resonance. Apple’s storefronts became impromptu shrines and
memorials, something we can safely say will not happen... when the CEOs of Exxon Mobil or Nestlé
pass away’ (Healy, 2011). He is remembered by the faculty of Harvard Business School, as well as by
people across the globe as ‘a charismatic leader with the clarity of vision’ (HBS Press Release, 2011).
Several books written on the life, work and personality of Steve Jobs portray him as a charismatic
leader, citing episodes from his life to prove the point. His ‘charismatic rhetorical style’ (Isaacson, 2011)
have been at the core of the books written on Jobs. Young and Simon (2005), begin the prologue of their
book on Jobs by stating, ‘Charisma (is) a gift given to few people... Nature bestowed that gift on Steve
Jobs...’ (p. 1).
According to Trice and Beyer (1986), charismatic leaders strive for ‘radical innovations that challenge
established practices and generate excitement...’ As illustrated above, Steve Jobs checks all the points on
this list.
Bill Gates’s Charisma
Bill Gates, in the early years of Microsoft, envisioned a computer on every desk, and in every home,
running Microsoft software (Beaumont, 2008). With this simple and easy to visualize (Warfield, 2011),
yet powerful vision, Gates created a multinational giant that initially provided a platform for a generation
of computer scientists to flourish (Wessel, 2011), and later ‘gave the world a new standard way for com-
puting, documenting and connecting’ (Yanai et al., 2007). The clarity of his vision is evident in the fact
that Gates quit his studies at Harvard in order to be part of the technological revolution that was taking
shape at that time, and founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. According to Lowe (1998), ‘Gates is to soft-
ware what Edison was to the light bulb—part innovator, part entrepreneur, part salesman, and full-time
genius’ (p. xi).
Gates did in fact succeed in (almost) achieving his vision; Windows, a series of operating systems
(OS) produced by Microsoft holds over 92 per cent market share in the OS market (Net Market Share,
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 167
2012). This was a result of hiring for the brains (Harris and Brannick, 1999). He is credited for having
created an organization of brilliant people as he believed that ‘ideas could get better from combined
smarts and perspectives’ (Sources of Insight, 2011).
Today, Gates is not just a business leader, but also a ‘leader of people’ (Wessel, 2011); the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, founded in 1994, attempts to reduce the inequities in the world. After
stepping away from Microsoft, Gates has committed his time, talent and resources to the cause of
fighting inequality, eliminating diseases and increasing development standards in developing and
underdeveloped nations. This has earned him a following among not just customers, but among people
across the globe. However, people are not emotionally attached to Gates as a leader; an Apple fan
writes that there never can be an emotional connect to Microsoft products as one has with Apple
products (MacForums, 2011), and by extension no emotional attachment to Gates. Although, this may
be a biased opinion, there is no evidence (article, videos and newspaper reports) available in media
and popular literature that contradicts this view or talks about this aspect in relation to Bill Gates or
Microsoft products.
Calling Bill Gates a narcissistic leader, Maccoby (2004) adds that he also lacks empathy. He goes on
to elaborate that such leaders face difficulty in communicating effectively and in persuading others.
Reportedly, he is also not a very good listener. Hertzfeld, a member of the Macintosh team at Apple once
remarked that Gates could never bear anyone else explaining to him how things worked (Isaacson,
2011). Gates is not impulsive, a trait associated with charismatic leaders (Luck, 1978). Instead, he is
pragmatic and calculating (Isaacson, 2011), which is also reflected in the business decisions that he has
taken for Microsoft—never shying away from making Microsoft software and operating systems avail-
able to a variety of manufacturers. Isaacson (2011) writes about an incident that shows the impulsiveness
of Jobs and the calm poise of Gates. When Microsoft divulged that it was in the process of developing a
new OS for IBM PCs, Jobs was furious and accused Gates for having cheated him (when actually Gates
was allowed to do this as per their contract). Gates sat calmly, looking on coolly at Jobs outburst of anger,
and famously said,
Well Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich
neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV and found out that you had already stolen it.
(Isaacson, 2011, p. 178)
Gates came from a family that was close-knit, where people were ambitious and competitive, but at
the same time believed in giving to the community (Strother, 2007)—values that Gates internalized in
his childhood. Winning was a compulsion for him, so much so, that, although a nerd, he succeeded in
individual sports as well (Strother, 2007). He strived to win, but winning was never enough for Gates.
He would take things ‘a little too far’; he would like to win by breaking rules to show that he was smarter
than the one who wrote those rules (McCollester, 2007). A workaholic father and a grandmother with
whom Gates played during childhood fostered a competitive spirit in him. His interest in business was
sparked early in life, sitting by his father’s side at the dinners that his family hosted, inviting business
people from the neighbourhood (Strother, 2007). Although, Gates has been recognized as rude and
temperamental (Isaacson, 2011; PBS, 2011) by some, he is widely known as a quiet, level-headed and
in control of himself and his emotions. He himself says, ‘I’m good at when people are emotional; I’m
kind of less emotional’ (Isaacson, 2011).
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168 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
Bill Gates has been recognised as ‘the world’s most famous nerd’ (Foo, 2006), and ‘nerd’ by defini-
tion are considered ‘socially inept’ (Webster, 1913) and lacking confidence (Wikipedia, 2012). Although
several web log comments claim that Gates is a highly confident person (Squidoo, n.d.), Isaacson (2011)
claims that Gates often has problem making eye contact with people; something widely considered a
sign of lack of confidence. Another view is that Gates was not confident during his childhood, but he
created and perfected a sense of self-confidence by believing in himself (Creative Living Inc, n.d.). As
far as dominance is concerned, Gates, with an inculcated winning streak, strives to dominate over com-
petition, that too by a huge margin (Ashley, 2008). According to Bryan et al. (2011), Bill Gates is an
example of dominance in his domain of technology as well as of financial dominance as one of the rich-
est men in the world. However, in a common interview with Jobs and Gates, the latter seems to get easily
overpowered by the former (D5 Conference, 2007). A strong conviction is something that can be seen in
Gates decisions from the time he traded his aspirational degree at Harvard in order to deep dive into the
technological revolution that was taking shape in the Silicon Valley at that time, and later when he
‘dropped out again’ (McCollester, 2007), giving up his position as the Chief Executive Officer at
Microsoft, to devote his time to the reduction of inequities around the world. The strength of his convic-
tion of the moral righteousness of his new form of philanthropy work and the significance he attaches to
it became evident in 2005 when he chose this unconventional topic (as per the general business school
convention) at the commencement speech at Harvard, where he was invited as the keynote speaker.
Supporters argue that he should be idolized by people (Wessel, 2011) not just because he changed the
world once by helping people realize their potential through the use of software, but more so, because he
is changing the world everyday with his work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; his own
style of philanthropy and a passion for innovation (TED, 2009). The Time Magazine as cited in TED
(2009) summarised his contribution to the world as follows,
When Gates looks at the world, a world in which millions of preventable deaths occur each year, he sees an
irrational, inefcient, broken system, an application that needs to be debugged. It shocks him—his word—that
people don’t see this, the same way it shocked him that nobody but he and [Paul] Allen saw the microchip for
what it was’.
The media, articles by the academia and internet blog postings are divided in their verdict on Bill
Gates as a charismatic leader. Some consider him a charismatic leader (Friedman and Langbert, 2000;
Maccoby, 2004; Murdock, 2010), while others do not (Majewski, 2012; Pavlus, 2012; Santos, 2011).
Kahan (2012) contends that although by Weber’s definition Gates may not be charismatic (since Weber
believed that modern capitalism was essentially anti-charismatic), in true sense he is actually quiet char-
ismatic, but this may be unknown to the world. This points to the fact that, perhaps, Gates’ charisma has
not impressed upon the general public.
A book by Cohn and Moran (2011) takes Bill Gates as an example of an effective leader who is not
charismatic. On the other hand, Samier (2005) considers Gates a charismatic leader with an exceptional
gift of coding, prescience in seeing the future of technology and business prowess.
Thus, an evaluation of anecdotal evidence and statements of opinion makers Bill Gates can be said to
be charismatic to the extent that he has the following characteristics of a charismatic leader given by
Weber (1947), Luck (1978) and House (1977) respectively—extraordinary gift and articulation of vision;
narcissism; and self-confidence dominance, and a strong conviction in the moral righteousness of his/her
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 169
belief. Here too, the evidence for narcissism, self-confidence and dominance is not as conclusive as in
the case of Jobs.
Comparing the Charisma of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates
On three out of five characteristic traits of charismatic leaders that were used for the purpose of this
study, the two leaders differed significantly. There also exists a marked difference in the perception of
charisma of the two leaders among authors, journalists and general public (gauged through Web log
comments).
Steve Jobs fits perfectly in the mould of a charismatic leader. A narcissist, impulsive, confident and
dominating person who expressed cyclic behaviours, he possessed all characteristic traits of a charis-
matic leader. Gates, on the other hand, is calculative, lacks confidence and is not prone to cyclic behav-
iours, though he too is considered a narcissist. Although considered intimidating and dominating due to
his ruthless business decisions, as an individual, he could be easily overpowered by Jobs. Confidence
(or perhaps display of confidence) is the primary distinguishing factor in the personality of the two lead-
ers that set them apart in the eyes of their followers. The confidence that Steve Jobs exuded makes people
believe in his otherwise larger-than-life vision and in his distorted reality, just because he says in a very
self-assured way. Impulsiveness of the leader may appeal to followers at a distance since it may be seen
as a sign of authenticity. For instance, during un-orchestrated interviews, audience is likely to cheer on
an impulsive person who indulges in being politically incorrect (and honest), as opposed to a person who
provides well-thought out and calculated answers.
While authors, the media, and public provide a tentative verdict on the perceived charisma of Bill
Gates, in the case of Steve Jobs, there is unanimous consensus on the charismatic appeal of the leader.
Moreover, literature provides enough anecdotal evidence on some Apple employees considering Jobs as
a hero. There is no such evidence available on the perception of Microsoft employees about Gates.
There is also mention of the word ‘charisma’ being associated with the name of Steve Jobs. It is thus
clear that as far as charisma is concerned, Steve Jobs wins over Bill Gates. According to Isaacson (2011),
Gates was mesmerized by the effect that Jobs had on people, and that he was slightly envious of Jobs for
this reason.
We attempt to highlight the differences in the personality (motives and traits) as well as in the vision
and philosophy of the two leaders that we believe contributed to the difference in charisma between the
two.
Difference in Motives
The scores of the three motives for both Jobs and Gates are given in Table 2 and a comparison of their
motives and charisma is given in Table 3. Steve Jobs’ need for power is significantly higher than his need
for achievement (F = 9.98, p = 0.01) and his need for power is significantly higher than his need for
affiliation (F = 28.86, p = 0.00). Thus, Steve Jobs’ need for power is his most dominant motivation.
On the other hand, even though Bill Gates’ need for power is not significantly higher than his need for
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170 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
Table 2. Motives of Leaders
Steve Jobs Bill Gates
Name Frames Pow Ach Aff Name Frames Pow Ach Aff
Common Interview 140 0.19 0.15 0.01 Common Interview 139 0.13 0.14 0.01
Stanford Speech 57 0.26 0.16 0.05 Harvard Speech 66 0.24 0.05 0.02
Thoughts on Life 15 0.27 0.07 0.00 Introducing Vista 12 0.17 0.17 0.00
First Macintosh 4 0.50 0.00 0.02 Hello, I’m Bill Gates 4 0.25 0.25 0.00
Young Vibrant Jobs 29 0.24 0.14 0.00 Intro of Windows 15 0.13 0.13 0.00
Rare footage 89 0.18 0.10 0.00 History of Microsoft 8 0.25 0.13 0.25
Average 0.27 0.10 0.01 0.20 0.14 0.05
Table 3. Bill Gates & Steve Jobs: A Comparison
Aspect of Personality Bill Gates Jobs
n (Pow) Vision to change the world by reducing
inequities
Exhorted his employees to “make a dent in
the Universe”
Was “masterful at cajoling, stroking,
persuading, attering and intimidating people
Known to “distort reality” and convince
people of “practically anything”
“We make computers for people who’re
out to change the world”
His death saw an upsurge of emotional
reactions from people across the globe
n (Ach) Created an organization of brilliant people
as he believed that “ideas could get better
from combined smarts and perspectives”
Winning was never enough for Gates; he
would take things “a little too far”; he
would like to win by breaking rules to
show that he was smarter than the one
who wrote those rules
Apple creates products that are “ahead of
their times”
Strategy built around making “some really
great and unique products”
Driven by a passion for perfection
n (Aff) Not very strong Not very strong
Narcissism Recognized as a narcissist with a lack of
empathy
Believed that he was the only person who
could “straighten out the company”
Suffered from a “Narcissistic Personality
Disorder”
Impulsiveness Not impulsive; instead, considered
calculating and pragmatic
Displays when Microsoft announced
that it would develop a new OS for IBM;
demanded to meet Gates immediately.
Upon meeting Gates, he shouted, “I trusted
you, and now you’re stealing from us.”
(Table 3 continued)
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 171
Aspect of Personality Bill Gates Jobs
Cyclic Behaviour Rubbished ideas of his employees and a few
days later he would walk upto them and
narrate the same idea, claiming it as his own
Condence Faces problem in communicating
effectively
Has problem making eye contact with
people
A self assured smile and a condent gait
Dominance Known for ruthless and shrewd business
practices
Limited expertise in technology; often
interfered with work at the company and
demanded that employees either produce
unrealistically fast, or make the product
work x times faster and the like
(Table 3 continued)
achievement (F = 1.95, p = 0.19) his need for power is greater than his need for affiliation (F = 9.83,
p = 0.01). Hence, only Steve Jobs’ motive profile is completely consistent while Gates’ motive profile is
only partially consistent with the leadership motive profile predicted by McClelland and Burnham
(2003) and House et al. (1991).
A leader with a higher need for achievement will be obsessed with the fear of failure and thus may not
be able to trust followers to complete difficult tasks and also may not be able to inspire them to take risks.
Thus, motives measure up to indicate that Jobs is a more effective leader among the two. However, in the
context of charisma, the power motive is most significant, as it indicates a desire to influence, persuade
Table 4. Results of ANOVA to Identify Difference in Average Frequency of Words Used within LIWC2007
Categories
LIWC Word Category
(examples of words in this category)
Average Per cent of Words Used
F (p) valueBill Gates Steve Jobs
1st person singular (I, me, mine) 1.73 2.21 0.27 (0.61)
1st person plural (we, us, our) 3.31 1.29 11.42 (0.00)
2nd person (you, your, thou) 1.52 3.09 1.44 (0.25)
3rd person singular (she, her, him) 0.51 0.19 0.58 (0.46)
3rd person plural (they, their, they’d) 0.61 1.70 3.32 (0.09)
Impersonal pronouns (it, its, those) 7.13 8.82 1.42 (0.26)
Articles (A, an, the) 7.99 6.73 2.49 (0.14)
Adverb (very, really, quickly) 6.64 5.03 5.59 (0.04)
Affective processes (happy, cried, abandon) 3.72 4.66 2.92 (0.11)
Inclusive (and, with, include) 8.92 5.71 6.35 (0.03)
Biological processes (eat, blood, pain) 0.30 1.44 3.55 (0.08)
Body (cheek, hands, spit) 0.06 0.20 2.88 (0.12)
Sexual (horny, love, incest) 0.02 0.19 2.69 (0.13)
Motion (arrive, car, go) 2.95 1.99 3.10 (0.10)
Note: N = 6. Figures in brackets indicate the p values.
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172 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
and to impress upon the world at large. In keeping with our proposition, the leader with a higher need for
Power (Steve Jobs in this case), also has a greater charismatic appeal among followers.
In addition, to this, the speeches were analysed using the Linguistic Analysis and Word Count (LIWC;
Pennebaker et al., 2007), a text analysis software which calculates the degree to which people use different
categories of words in a given text. Based on the textual analysis of four speeches each of Steve Jobs and
Bill Gates done by LIWC2007 software, we also had measures of activity inhibition of both the leaders.
Steve Jobs’s scores on negations in each of the six speeches were 1.7 per cent, 0.43 per cent, 3.02 per cent,
1.8 per cent, 0.9 per cent and 1.38 per cent while Bill Gates’s scores on negations in each of the six
speeches were 0.64 per cent, 0 per cent, 1.11 per cent, 1.83 per cent, 1.02 per cent and 1.35 per cent. Even
though the mean scores on negations for Jobs (1.53) is almost one and a half times as much as the mean
scores on negations for Gates (0.99), the differences between the two on activity inhibition was not
statistically significant (p = 0.24). Based on these findings and applying McClelland and Burnham (2003)
typology, we can classify Jobs as a personal-power manager and Gates as an achievement oriented manager.
Difference in Philosophies
Although the visions that Jobs and Gates saw for their respective companies were both very powerful
and appealing, there existed a fundamental difference in the philosophy of doing business that separated
the two. The company and products that Jobs has built are less about structure and more about providing
the individual a free will. Set out to put a ‘dent on the universe’, he comes across as a rebel who does not
care about whether his product is compatible with another’s software as it could compromise the
experience that the customer gets. His goal was to provide to his customers aesthetically beautiful,
ahead-of their time-products that enable them to amplify their capabilities. On the other hand, Bill Gates’
company is built around the vision of dominating the software landscape; something he achieved through
ruthless business practices, standardizing products and mass production. Gates’ products were compatible
with other systems, more affordable and it is through Microsoft that every desk in (almost) every home
did get a personal computer. While Gates’ focus was on the market share and stock price, Jobs told his
employees ‘the press and stock price will take care of themselves’ (Apple Worldwide Developers
Conference, 1997). It is true that many more people across the globe use Microsoft products than Apple’s,
but it is Apple’s constant innovation and endeavour to provide a platform for users to experiment and
multi-task, that makes Apple and Jobs by extension aspirational. As Professor Trachtenberg of the
George Washington University states in the editorial of the New York Times, ‘(Although) my mind fully
understands Gates’ mandate, (...) my heart is with Jobs’ (Trachtenberg, 2011).
Steve Jobs’s Impression Management
With Steve Jobs, the art of impression management was quaint; amusing to readers and frustrating to
those near him, at least at first. The way he played on his dramaturgy was termed by a software designer
on the Mac Team, Bud Tribble, as the ‘reality distortion field’, a term that became instantly popular
among employees, and is now widely associated with Jobs. According to Tribble and others, around Jobs
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 173
‘reality is malleable’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. 117) and he made impossible things seem possible. Using his
excellent convincing skills, he could ‘convince anyone of practically anything’ (p. 118). According to
Isaacson (2011), Jobs was ‘masterful at cajoling, stroking, persuading, flattering and intimidating
people’ (p. 121). Founder of Atari, a company that defined computer entertainment industry from the
1970s to mid-1980s, Nolan Bushnell, who was also Jobs’ entrepreneurial role model, appreciated Jobs’
understanding of business aspects, and not just the technology. He advised him to ‘pretend to be
completely in control and people will assume that you are’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. 55). In this way, Jobs from
early days of his career was mentored by people who emphasized to him the importance of managing
impressions.
Ingratiation. Steve Jobs’ reality was a world with binary ways; according to him, one was either ‘the
best’ or ‘totally shit’. His team became attuned to his philosophy, wherein he placed people he thought
were ‘the best’ on pedestals; they were people, who according to him could do no wrong. Through his
addresses to the stakeholders of the company, Jobs was often able to flatter and compliment both employ-
ees and audiences. In the Mac World Expo (1997) address, Jobs artfully complimented both the users and
creators of Apple.
You always had to be a little different to buy an Apple Computer... They are the creative spirits in this world.
They’re the people who are not just out to get a job done; they’re out to change the world... with whatever great
tools that they can get. And we make tools for those kinds of people... Because a lot of times, people think they’re
crazy. But in that craziness, we see genius.
Through the tactful use of words, Jobs was able to compliment both groups, without being overtly
flattering. Since ingratiation, as a technique of impression management, was used by Jobs towards both
his internal (employees) and external stakeholders, we can consider this as a likely contributor to his
charismatic appeal in the eyes of the followers for the purpose of this study, i.e., the customers of Apple
products and members of the public.
Self Promotion. Videos of Steve Jobs addressing live audiences and during press interviews reveal the
use of the self-promotion technique by him. While addressing college students at the Stanford
Commencement Address in 2005, Jobs related the incident when he took Calligraphy classes while at
Reed College. He asserted that it was that knowledge he had gained that helped them design Mac, which
went on to become the first computer with beautiful typography. He ended the narrative by claiming,
‘If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple type-
faces or proportionately spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no per-
sonal computer would have them’. Such blatant expression of his skills and attributes by Jobs seems to
point to an attempt to ‘maximize the apparent responsibility’.
Intimidation. Steve Jobs used this tool often and in the words of author Malcolm Gladwell (2011), ‘he
was always able to be so devastating in his comments and actions: because he knew exactly where other
people’s weaknesses were... He’s a really great bully—who understands you so perfectly he knows
exactly how to hurt you’. His biography also emphasizes this aspect of his personality. Member of the
original Mac team, Joanna Hoffman asserted that Jobs could manipulate people and had an ‘uncanny
capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know what will make you feel small, to make you
cringe (p. 121)’. According to Ann Bowers, human resources professional at Apple, Steve words and
actions ‘...had a hurtful effect. It created a fear factor’ (Isaacson, 2011, p. 121). His behaviour also caused
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174 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
his team to burn out at times; other than the costs incurred due to his frequent interventions, ‘there was
also a cost in brutalized human feelings’ (p. 124). Over time, he honed the art of mastering people
through stares and long pauses of silence. However, since such intimidation was aimed at employees and
partners and was restricted to the back stage, for the purpose of this study, we contend that this technique
would not have a direct impact on the charisma of the leader in the eyes of the followers, i.e. people who
are not in close contact with Jobs.
Exemplification. Steve Jobs in the truest sense exemplifies what Apple stands for and aspires to be;
what he would like his employees to emulate. According to him, Apple is an extension of himself.
Parallels can be drawn between the life of Steve Jobs and the products of Apple. A proponent of simple
living, he lived in a sparsely furnished home in Cupertino (Isaacson, 2011). ‘Simplicity is the ultimate
sophistication’, read a line from the first brochure of Apple. Jobs expected his team to design products
that were simple, sophisticated and easy to use.
Setting the Stage and the Performance. The public appearances of Steve Jobs carried strong messages
in content—be it product launches, press interviews or Apple key note addresses. This was not, however,
without setting the stage which often bore some significance. Donning simple attire for all the key note
addresses, press releases and interviews—a black turtleneck sweater, blue faded jeans and sneakers—
Jobs built a connection with the viewers; so they could relate to a CEO who dressed like them, and not
in business suits. It may also have been a tact devised to draw attention to the products, and not to the
businessman himself (Vanderheeren, 2011).
The Apple logo was always set at a prominent place on the screen behind Jobs during all his addresses,
perhaps as a symbol of their collective identity. Jobs often started his addresses by narrating the story of
success of the products of Apple till that time, or sometimes the evolution of the computing industry.
This could have been done to instil a sense of pride in their creations and to reinforce the identity of the
listeners (MacWorld Expo, 2007). He seems to know the pulse of the audience and would often break
into impromptu sermons to prove his point if he felt the script was not generating the expected excite-
ment (MacWorld Expo, 1997; Sharma and Grant, 2011).
Moreover, all the slides in his presentations were always very brief and often only punch phrases were
included. He would also use them to the best advantage by proving his point through visual images. For
instance, while introducing the iPhone, he could have simply stated that the iPhone was both easier to
use and smarter than all other existing smart phones. However, Jobs chose to highlight his point by
depicting a graph on the slide, showing on the x axis the ease of use and on the y axis the smartness of
the phone. Red and blue dots on the graph indicated competitor products, while the iPhone, a green dot
was shown at the far northeast quadrant, showing the excellence of the product. He also used these slides
to sometimes create humorous situations. Jobs’ ‘One Last Thing’ line became a craze among followers.
He had the habit of keeping the best things for the end, thus keeping the audiences on the edge of their
seats even while he told them about the sales figures and moderately important products. He would then
make some fake concluding remarks and pretend to exit from the stage. He would then turn and say, but
there is just ‘one last thing’ and that would typically be the most important part of the address. Products
like the iPod touch, MacBook Pro were introduced in this fashion. People would break into applause
whenever he said that or in his later addresses, there was sometimes a slide on the presentation being
projected that said ‘One last thing’.
He was also known to generate excitement by inviting business heads of companies Apple was
partnering with to the key note addresses. Starting in 1983, Steve Jobs invited Fred Gibbons (President
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 175
of Software Publishing Corporation), Mitch Kapor (President, Lotus Development) and Bill Gates to an
Apple Event. Next, when Apple announced a deal with Microsoft in 1997, Jobs invited Gates to speak at
the event through satellite (MacWorld Expo, 1997).
Bill Gates’s Impression Management
There is no mention of Bill Gates in any literature on impression management. However, several
people have noted the development trajectory of Gates’ presentation skills over the last three decades
(Asher, 2008; Gallo, 2009).
Ingratiation. Although Bill Gates is known to be a shrewd businessman (TED, 2009) who is said to
cut to the crux of the issue with ‘lapidary skill’ (Isaacson, 2011) and is often sarcastic and rude, has been
found to go out of the way to be likeable to people when need be. In 1998, when Microsoft was sued by
the US Department of Justice for its allegedly engaging in monopolistic practices, Gates orchestrated an
event-packed trip around the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Reportedly, he was at his humble best,
smiling and shaking hands with people, giving autographs, being self-deprecating and even praising
competition. A young girl was convinced by Gates efforts and claimed, ‘You can tell he’s not in it for
money. He wants to make software better’ (DuBrin, 2005).
Self Promotion. Bell (2010) cites Bill Gates as an example of a celebrity who ‘lies at the intersection
of attributed and achieved celebrity’ (p. 191). By employing the services of a PR department, writing
books (The Road Ahead) and opening a website in his own name, Gates does in fact fall into the narcis-
sistic self-promotion category, as stated by Maccoby (2004). However, it can be argued that in the case
of Gates not all of it is to do with portraying himself in a certain positive way. In fact, he uses these plat-
forms to promote social causes and tries to build awareness about these. In this way, one cannot really
consider him a self-promoter.
Intimidation. Gates is known in the business world as brash and outspoken (DuBrin, 2007) and is
feared for his aggression and obsession with demolishing competition (Schokker, 2007). Supreme Court
nominee Robert Bork and Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater prosecutor, in a Wall Street Journal editorial in
2001 as cited in Soat (2007) wrote about Microsoft and the business strategies of Bill Gates, saying, ‘Its
genius has been in business and predation, not innovation’. Gates and the then sales chief of Microsoft
Steve Ballmer (current CEO, Microsoft) reportedly high fived each other when a financial analysts, after
a grim and purposefully bearish presentation, said to them, ‘Congratulations. You scared the hell out of
people’ (Merkl-Davies and Brennan, 2007). Moreover, there are stories of him brutally breaking down
employees in his quest to cut down to the truth (McCollester, 2007). When he does not like an idea, he
quips dismissively, ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’ (Soat, 2007). He thus intimidates people
through his business decisions and is rumoured to have done so in person within his organization.
However, in contrast, Gates in his public appearances (interviews, product launches, etc.) comes across
as a rather amiable person.
Exemplification. By being a coder and software developer par excellence, Gates set an example for
all employees as Microsoft, as at the heart of the business model of Microsoft lies the brilliant Microsoft
software developer with his analytical processing prowess, much like Bill Gates himself. Moreover, by
constantly communicating with his software developers in his characteristic management by wandering
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176 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
about, he was able to understand the new trends, and how they can be woven to create industry standard
products (DuBrin, 2005). This also led to the development of a corporate culture that enables software
researchers and developers to freely choose the path of their research (Wu, 2009).
Setting the Stage and the Performance. Communication coaches (Asher, 2008; Gallo, 2009;
McCollester, 2007; Morgan, 2012) contend that Bill Gates does not possess great public speaking skills.
As far as content of speech is concerned, Gates speech is laden with jargon and statistics that may not
appeal to the public. Moreover, his slides contain a lot of text and bullet points, and thus he often ends
up repeating what is already visible on the slide. On the positive side, he likes to keep his speeches clear,
honest and logical. He personally deletes every word that is superfluous; ‘Why say “truly X”? Is “X” not
enough?’ he tells McCollester (McCollester, 2007). In most public appearances, he would turn up in
business attire like most CEOs, reinforcing both the ‘rich’ and ‘nerd’ images that are strongly associated
with him.
According to communication theorist and Coach Nick Morgan, Gates adopts a head posture that can
be perceived as timid and subservient (Morgan, 2012). In video clippings of Gates during product
launches, he is seen to be blocking the vision of the viewers by standing in front of the projection screen.
Moreover, his hand gestures are recognized by experts as awkward and sometimes display his lack of
preparation (Gallo, 2009). To add to this, Gates’ voice has ‘one setting—high and loud’ (McCollester,
2007). In the past, during the 2005 Windows Live launch, Gates was found to be reading content off the
slides, something that the viewers, live audience as well as broadcast audience, could have read
themselves. According to McCollester (2007), Gates is quite tactless when it comes to persuasion and
storytelling; ‘he (Gates) does it so badly that you can see it coming a mile off’, he says.
Comparing the Impression Management of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates
While both, Jobs and Gates show examples of impression management behaviour, it is clear that Steve
Jobs showed more instances and more pronounced impression management behaviour as compared to
Bill Gates. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates show examples of ingratiation, intimidation and exempli-
fication. However, Steve Jobs is the clear winner when it comes to self-promotion and setting the
stage and performing. Steve Jobs’ skills as a stage performer are a key contributor to his popular appeal
(and subsequent charisma) in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, Gates’ more reticent behaviour
and poor management of the stage make him less charismatic.
Discussion
We have used a qualitative-descriptive research design combined with content analysis to study the lives
of two business leaders who have been at the forefront of the technology industry for almost four decades.
We have analysed public speeches and interviews of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to study their motives,
their impression management strategies and their charisma. Our results show clear differences in their
motive profile, their impression management strategies, and their charisma. While Steve Jobs’ dominant
power motive was the most dominant and greater than his motive for achievement and affiliation, Bill
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Leader Motives, Impression Management, and Charisma 177
Gates, need for power was greater than only his need for affiliation and not his need for achievement. In
other words, while Jobs was motivated by a need to influence others even at the cost of his own
achievement and relationships, Gates primary objective was to achieve goals rather than influence others
or build relationships. Hence, we find that the leader’s power motive marginally predicts perceived
charisma. This finding is congruent with earlier researchers (House and Howell, 1992). In addition,
we find that acquisitive impression management strategies, namely ingratiation, exemplification, intimi-
dation and self-promotion has a positive effect on leaders perceived charisma. We draw this from the
fact that there is evidence that the leader with the higher perceived charisma (Jobs) used each of these
techniques more than the other leader (Gates). No evidence of any defensive techniques—face saving
and supplication—was found for the two leaders studied. Our findings support Gardner’s (1992) view
that defensive techniques are used as the last resort. The study did not provide any evidence to support
the findings of House et al. (1992).
Leaders with high power motive would like to influence people and the world at large, and in doing
so try to create impressions on others in a way he or she desires. In this way impression management may
provide the mechanism by which individuals with a high power motive achieve their charisma. Further
researchers may specifically explore the mediating effect of impression management on the relationship
between leader motives and charisma.
Limitations of this Study
Although the research method has enabled a very in-depth and focussed study, the findings of this
research cannot be generalized under all scenarios and across sectors, due to the small study sample.
Moreover, generalizations drawn from case based research may be subjective in nature (Sharma, Prasad
and Satyanarayana, 1984, pp. 140–146). In addition, this research, like all qualitative research studies, is
susceptible to the influence of personal biases and idiosyncrasies of the researcher, though utmost care
has been taken to ensure objectivity. Finally, due to paucity of resources the scoring of motives using
content analysis tool was done by a single rater and thus multi-rater check is not in place in this research.
Implications for Practice
This study makes three important contributions to our understanding of charismatic leadership. First, our
findings reveal that there exists a positive relationship between power motive and perceived charisma of
the leader. This has implications for the selection process in organizations. For companies that wish to
appoint charismatic personalities at leadership positions, who are likely to, in turn, affect positive
outcomes within the organization, it is critical that the motive profile of the candidates is used as a
critical data point in the selection decisions. Also, since these motives can be detected early on in one’s
life (House et al., 1991), it can be successfully used by human resource managers to select entry level
managers as well (not just the top leaders) who can then be groomed to take up higher roles over time.
More contemporary and conclusive instruments for determining motives need to be developed in this
regard since the existing TAT based tools are complex and time-consuming. In this regard, we propose
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178 Tanvi Shah and Zubin R. Mulla
the use of the Manual for Scoring Motive Imagery in Running Text (Winter, 1991a) to answers of
interview questions.
Second, we found that use of acquisitive impression management techniques, namely ingratiation,
exemplification, intimidation and self-promotion has a positive effect on leader’s perceived charisma.
The role of impression management is critical for building heroic leaders (Burns, 1978). When the geo-
graphical distance between the leader and his followers is large, when their interactions are limited and
mostly unidirectional (leader to follower), and when the leader does not cater to the authentic and true
needs of the followers (as in the case of a CEO and general public), the perceived charisma of the leader
in the mind of the followers flows from his magical acts, words and persona rather than from his ideas
and goals. In line with the theory proposed by Burns (1978), in such leader-follower relationships, the
followers experience no internal conflict as they are moved by their own need for aspiration and hope
that they project onto the heroic leader. Thus, these leaders enjoy mass appeal. We assert that such hero-
ism and aura can be created through planned use of impression management techniques to dramatize the
leader’s public performances.
An important implication of this for organizations is that their top leaders need to focus on honing
their impression management skills to create an aura of heroism around them as the opinion of the
general public regarding these leaders has an important bearing on their perception of the organiza-
tion and in turn on the market valuation of the company (in case of a public company), which is also
perception driven.
Moreover, it would be useful for companies to employ the services of impression management con-
sultants. Today, an entire industry of professionals thrives on this concept; training CEOs and top leaders
in these tactics. For instance, US Presidents employ the services of PR Firms, as do most business lead-
ers. A lot goes into the backstage preparations for an impactful public speech. Organizations as well as
leaders should invest time and effort in staging the performances, as it’s not just the leaders image, but
also the company image, product image and market valuation that are impacted by these.
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Tanvi Shah is Employer Brand Manager at Hindustan Unilever Limited, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
E-mail: tanvi.shah@unilever.com
Zubin R. Mulla (Corresponding author) is Assistant Professor at School of Management and Labour
Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
E-mail: zubinmulla@yahoo.co.in
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... Consider, for example, the case of Steve Jobs. While he was both highly charismatic and highly innovative (Shah & Mulla, 2013), numerous personal accounts suggest that employees were often terrified of sharing their innovative ideas with him for fear of how he might respond (Becraft, 2016). ...
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... Bu şirketin Ceo'su olan Steve Jobs'un bu başarısı teknik becerisi değil liderlik beceri ile çalışanlara ilham kaynağı olması ve etkin motivasyon kaynaklarını kullanmasıdır (House, 1971). Yine benzer şekilde Microsoft şirketinin sahibi olan Bill Gates'in liderlik becerisi de çalışanlar üzerinde aynı etkiyi göstermektedir ( Shah, Mulla, 2013 ). Dolayısıyla bu tip liderlik tarzı yenilik ve öğrenme sürecini hızlandırdığı için endüstri 4.0'de benimsenmesi gereken özel bir liderlik tarzı olmaktadır. ...
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... For instance, Apple Inc. is the top most innovative company; it is not because of technical skills of the CEO Steve Jobs but of his leadership style. Similarly, Microsoft Corporation is credited for the different leadership style of Bill Gates (Brown, 2018;Shah & Mulla, 2013). Amazon.com is one of the early adopter of 4.0 technologies, with Net worth $150 billion dollar, as the Jefferry Perston Bezos has realized the disruption of IT. ...
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The fourth industrial revolution is the fusion of multiple technologies, the researchers, practitioners, experts, economists and academicians are focusing to understand and develop the layouts, and trying to generate new business models, identifying the principles, and strategies to measure the potential of this technological revolution. For the sake of survival in 4IR, organizations have to realize and detect the ways and develop new plans and approaches to be in the list of proactive businesses. Who will lead in the open-source era where the people are more connected and empowered than ever before? The traditional models of leadership, practices, and characteristics are becoming obsolete. We need to see the new leadership structure and characteristics of leaders. This paper is highlighting some recent approaches of leadership 4.0 which need to be considered for reshaping today's leaders in this open-source era of technology. This paper is underlining a viewpoint about leadership approach and leader's characteristics for leading 4IR. Leaders should lead the organization cross-functional and restore the actions which build initiatives towards the digitization. The leader can ensure the positive shift of 4IR by vanishing the postdated characteristics of leadership. The knowledge-oriented leadership aligns the objectives around those strategies, initiatives, investments which supports the organization to cope up with upcoming digital age challenges. The rapid shift to industry 4.0 requires a broader perspective of leadership to adopt the technologies faster to sustain in the digital revolutionary world.
Chapter
Strategic personal brand management is a heuristic process that analyzes internal and external market factors to determine the best positioning for a brand. Brand management takes into account the current brand identity and determines the most desirable category or associations in the audience’s mind to increase equity for the personal brand. Personal brands must stand out by differentiating themselves in their target audience’s minds using tangible and intangible components of their brand such as image, personality, and strengths. However, in largely competitive industries and job markets, these assets are often not enough to differentiate a brand. Beyond the initial benefits of someone’s work, consumers will make decisions, not based on an assessment of functional value offered, but instead based on brand awareness and positioning.
Chapter
Full-text available
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Motivation and Personality is the first book to be devoted to content analysis systems for assessment of characteristics of the individuals, groups, or historical periods which create verbal materials. Manuals for using the various systems, research regarding the background of the systems and practice materials are included to create a book which is both a work of reference and a handbook.
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This article presents an overview of this special issue of the Journal of Personality on religion in the psychology of personality. I begin with a brief historical overview in which I highlight the discrepancy between the vision of early personologists and how religion is handled today within the field of personality. I then consider how contemporary research and theory can profit by incorporating religious and spiritual constructs and processes. As personality psychologists purport to study the whole person, the relative neglect of religiousness in the current literature is a serious omission that precludes a comprehensive understanding of the person.