What are Steve Jobs’ Behavioral Traits?

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was arguably one of the most creative entrepreneurs of the modern era, revolutionizing the way that people use and interact with technology. He was a true technological pioneer and entrepreneur whose creative impact is felt in almost every aspect of modern business, communication, and design. He was obsessed with aesthetic details which can be seen in the sleek, modern design of of every Apple product and was constantly striving for excellence in everything that he did.  However, although Steve Jobs’ intense creativity led to numerous innovations, he was also notoriously difficult to work with. It’s hard to imagine managing someone like Steve Jobs, who was fiercely independent, always pushing the boundaries, and taking risks. However, it could be argued that it’s the combination of these traits that made him and Apple such an unstoppable success.

Steve Jobs’ Behavioral Line Chart

So what can we learn from the way Steve Jobs operated? What traits characterize his visionary leadership? Let’s take a look at some of his key behavioral traits on the chart below. The red line shows Steve Jobs’ behaviors, while the blue line shows an anonymous person’s behaviors for comparison. 

Steve Jobs’ Key Behavioral Traits

Adjectives: Innovative, determined, independent, bold, creative, dominant, charismatic, passionate, non-traditional, confident, ambitious, rebellious, bossy, aggressive, perfectionist, detailed, intelligent, revolutionary, open, conscientious, daring, perseverant, energetic, enterprising, self-motivated

High Proactivity (Pro)

The desire to pursue achievement of excellence in activities acknowledged by others as important for status in a community.

“People judge you on your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was proactive and thrived on setting goals and working hard. He was determined, ambitious, self-motivated, energetic and enterprising, spearheading companies like Apple, NEXT & Pixar.

High Dominance (Dom)

The desire to take control whenever and wherever possible.

 “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a leader who needed to be in charge and had a reputation of being a tyrannical micromanager. He was strong, forthright, determined, and able to influence others. He moved very quickly, liked being in charge and very rarely delegated jobs to others.

High Endurance (End)

The ability to persist with any task through to it’s completion.

I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

-Steve Jobs

Failure or setbacks never stopped Steve Jobs. After a long power struggle with the company’s board and its then-CEO, John Sculley, Jobs was kicked out of the company in 1985. However, this didn’t deter him — Instead, he started NEXT and Pixar and Apple later purchased NEXT stock resulting in Jobs’ return to apple. Jobs reflects on the period, saying “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Out of this new found lightness came operating systems like IOS used for IPhones.

High Autonomy (Aut)

The need to act independently, regardless of others’ beliefs or opinions about those actions.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” 

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs had a strong need to act independently of others or of social values and expectations. He notoriously ignored customer feedback in favor of his own vision and insisted that “people didn’t know what they wanted until he showed them.” He worked well alone and made his own rules, blazing a trail for beautiful tech.

High Aggression (Aggression)

The desire to be assertive, act quickly, and be competitive. 

My job is to not be easy on people. my job is to make them better. my job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects. and to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.” 

-Steve Jobs

By all accounts, Steve Jobs was a difficult person to work with. He was competitive, strong-willed and insisted on perfection. He was known for often being rude and abrasive, yelling at his colleagues and team when things didn’t go well or according to his vision. He made things happen and was unwilling to yield from his vision, often at the expense of other’s feelings.

High Creativity (Cre)

The ability to act and think innovatively.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

-Steve Jobs

There’s no doubt that Jobs was an original thinker. He was adventurous, bright and is widely recognized as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution. For him, creativity was about knowing what he wanted, applying intuition, and keeping it simple. He had an undeniable appreciation for beauty, insisting that he wasn’t going to make ugly things that made profits, and instead made some of the most aesthetically pleasing products on the market.

High Criticality (CY)

The desire to be critical of people and things, and to pick them apart in great detail.

Details matter. It’s worth waiting to get it right.”


Steve Jobs was constantly evaluating ideas and looking for ways to make technology better. He had a meticulous eye for detail, was conscientious and would often poke holes in poorly thought out ideas, products or opinions.

Other notable traits: High Order (Ord), Low Support (Sup), Low Submissiveness (Sub), High Self-Confidence (S-Cfd), Low Mentoring (Men)

After reading Steve Jobs’ key behavioral traits, it’s easy to see why Apple has become one of the most successful companies of all time. Jobs’ unswerving passion, vision, aggressive attention to detail and determination led to some of the most beautiful and functional tech products on the market. Although he was notoriously difficult to work with, today almost everyone holds his vision in their hands and there’s something to be said about that.

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