A boy was roaming around on a bicycle back in early 70s. Brimming with curiosity typical to that age, he saw a community burning cross. The boy was asked to keep moving and he must have followed the directions; however, this incident impacted his whole persona later in the life.
The boy had to steer a trillion dollar company some decades down the road and this might be nature’s way of pumping in diversity in his leadership style. Tim Cook left the place but mentally got stuck at how hatred is dangerous. It was a moment but Cook transformed it to define his whole life.
Diversity is what the incumbent Apple CEO introduced at the firm, the seeds of which were sown in early 70s.
It is a truth that the global tech space mourned the death of Steve Jobs. It was a loss so big that even Microsoft flew its flag at half mast. Another truth is the fact that Tim Cook took the bull by the horns and cast a spell on the rivals.
It was a time when articles popped up. The name of one of the articles was ”Why apple is doomed’ as Jobs died. Tim Cook disproved all this as he became the CEO of Apple in 2011.
Tim Trims leadership
Jobs had departed and Cook had a big job at hand. It was not only the size of the firm, it was the weight of expectations which could have broken his back.
But Timothy Donald Cook was a tough guy. He was born in 1960 and he had made his mark with his first assignment at IBM. The business executive was identified as HiPo which was an IBM jargon for high potential. Tim had not earned a title only, he topped the list of company’s future leaders at IBM.
Cook’s toughness was vivid when he undertook MBA class in 1988. Juggling between assignments during the day and delving into books at night, everything was not hunky dory yet he made it possible.
Industrial Engineering helped him to optimize complex system but MBA added a business touch to his persona. The first major achievement was the launch of Apple Watch. It can be credited to Cook’s leadership as Jobs had departed way before its release. The success of Apple Smart Watch and ultimately Tim Cook is a report confirming that the company beat entire Swiss watch industry. The numbers are above 100 million.
Above all, what defines Tim Cook’s leadership style is ‘diversity’. Being a gay himself, Cook had realized the importance of inclusivity and integration; the CEO materialized this concept and included 3 women to the executive team of apple. It was something new for all-male huddle.
At Apple, he created a sense of camaraderie. He used to address the employees as ‘team’. Tim Cook took the ‘accessibility’ aspect of leadership to such an extent that he gave his personal e-mail address to the employees.
It was not just a ‘marketing’ tactic to promote diversity. Cook keeps two pictures in front of him. One, of the Martin Luther King, the leader of American civil rights movement. Two pictures of another individual donned his place, those are of Robert F Kennedy who was once United States Attorney General and put in efforts for civil rights before assassination.
The childhood experience made Cook work for more inclusive and diverse workplace. But, it is not all rosy for the gray haired executive. He has faced challenges at personal level as well. Two years before joining Apple, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but he is still moving on.
His entry to Apple was preceded by innovative style of leadership. For instance, he was the Vice President of Compaq for corporate materials and harnessed build to order manufacturing.
Tim Cook believes that companies should be ‘force for good’. At an age of 37, he became senior Vice President of worldwide operations for Apple. After all, he was a great inventory manager.
As much as he focuses on ethics (he took ethics class as well), Cook knows much about statistics, to the extent that he pin points any statistical error upfront.
His ethics course might have to do a lot with his apology. Cook tendered apology upfront when users faced issue with maps.
While Apple under Steve Jobs was driven by technology, Tim Cook’s leadership style revolved around environment as well. Under Cook’s leadership, Apple set up advisory board to oversee suppliers responsibility program. Apple tries to improve the workplace conditions for its employees, same was not the case where it outsourced. Cook is consciously tackling that as well.
Cook walked the talk with his concern for environment. It is driven more towards recycling, an example of which is Liam robots which pull apart iphone6 so that all of its parts can be recycled.
With the size of Apple in mind, tech giants once considered that a bossy individual would be a perfect fit, however, little did they know that a ‘silent leader’ would take on the challenge. Cook himself revealed to be homosexual but when it comes to leadership, he is setting the style straight for other CEOs.
(Credits: The information contained in the article is from ‘The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level’ by Leander Kahney)