Many people vividly remember Steve Jobs as the face of Apple’s innovation - his charisma helped sell the world on wildly new ways of thinking about computers, music, and phones, which ultimately carried Apple through many of their early years. However, the company faced a major shift when their charming leader chose Tim Cook to succeed him before he passed away from cancer.
As a Stabilizer (SC) personality, Cook had a very different approach to leading than Jobs, who had a more assertive Initiator (DI) personality. Rather than rousing people with inspiring speeches or giving direct, assertive orders, Cook tended to sit back, listen, and process before offering advice. Jobs was full-force, dominant, and fast-moving, while Cook tends to take his time and invite others into the conversation. While Jobs led with fast-paced, fiery enthusiasm, Cook often leads with patience and practicality.
Though many people worried at first that Apple wouldn’t succeed without Jobs’ innovative ideas and magical presentations, Cook has helped Apple become the worldwide household name that it is today. According to CNBC, Apple’s stock has increased by more than 480% since Cook became CEO in 2011, which is a clear indication that his leadership has contributed to a successful continuation of the company’s triumph. The first company in the world to reach a market cap of $1 trillion, Apple is now known globally not only for its generation-defining technology, but also for the way the organization is run.
Here are some of Tim Cook’s strengths as a Stabilizer (SC), that have impacted the way in which he leads Apple:
- He steps back to listen and let others share.
- He shows great care for the values and philanthropy of the company.
- He asks questions to draw out important information.
- He takes his time to process information before making a decision.
- He expanded on what Apple was already good at.
Cook tends to be very open to hearing other people’s thoughts and ideas. His ability to set aside his own bias and hear someone out has helped lead Apple to become a more well-rounded, inclusive company. Rather than only pushing for his own ideas, Cook often listens to and relies on people in the company who know more than him about certain topics. He tends to be more of a trusting delegator than Jobs was, and is generally less involved in product development.
One of the biggest changes people saw when Tim Cook stepped up as CEO was that he shifted a lot of Apple’s focus from being the biggest tech innovator to showing care for the environment, factory working conditions, the advancement of health measurements, and more. While this has seemed to bring stress to shareholders at times, with one columnist summing up many of the views, writing that it “isn't necessarily inappropriate for shareholders from an ROI point of view,” it has helped set an example for many other major companies.
Because Apple is such a massive industrial company, its waste reductions and increased sustainability has spread to suppliers, as well. Cook described this as a way in which Apple “challenged [themselves] to think broader about how [they] could be the ripple in the pond”.
Cook’s focus on values also affects how Apple treats user data. While other companies like Facebook have faced major backlash for their data collection and misuse, Apple has stood firmly in its refusal to release any user data, even to law enforcement, in an effort to avoid compromising their security.
Rather than just taking things at face value, Cook’s Stabilizer personality helps him dig deeper in an attempt to get to the bottom of a problem or push teammates to learn more about a situation. In the book “Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level,” Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing, is quoted as saying “He's just very calm, steady, but will slice you up with questions. You better know your stuff.”
Cook’s ability to ask questions has helped ensure the credibility and knowledge of those working in the most important positions at the company, which can, in turn, improve the overall reliability and success of their products.
As a Stabilizer, Cook tends to be patient and thorough throughout the decision-making process. Former Chief Design Officer, Jonathan Ive, once described Cook as projecting a “quiet consideration.” In other words, he carefully thinks things through rather than passionately jumping to a conclusion, which tended to be more common under Jobs’ leadership. His ability to spend more time on big projects has helped make Apple products more stable and reliable, two qualities that are often most important to Stabilizers like Cook.
When Cook succeeded Jobs in 2011, many people expected that in order for Apple to stay on top, the company would need to regularly come out with completely world-changing products, like the original iPhone - likely, many of them underestimated just how much the iPhone could be leveraged to grow the company.
Though Apple has come out with Airpods and the Apple Watch in Cook’s time as CEO, there hasn’t been a major, market-shifting creation like the first iPhone. But despite this, Apple has seen unprecedented growth and expansion thanks to Cook’s ability to push for the improvement of and investment in Apple’s primary products.
Apple in the Long-Term
Tim Cook’s form of leadership is one that has helped build Apple into the tech empire it is today. His focus on knowledge, reliability, and long-term stability has made the company more trustworthy and valuable in the public’s eyes, and will likely carry Apple through until it’s someone else’s turn to assume the reins.