Lessons on Leadership – Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recently did an hour long segment on the Charlie Rose show.  Here’s the link. Naturally, since the company just released it’s new flagship products, Tim does a bit of bragging on their products.  But after the first 10 minutes or so, Charlie starts to ask some different questions.  If you sit down and really watch the interview, there’s some great things to be learned.  Tim talks about everything from their executive team and how he likes to put that together, to company mistakes and how those come about.  He also talked about stepping into a legacy that was left from Steve Jobs.  First of all, just sitting and listening to the interview was fascinating to me in that it provided a candid look into Tim and how he thinks and operates.  To be CEO of one of the most successful companies (if not the most successful company) in America, you gotta know your stuff.  Tim obviously does in many areas.  I love learning, so here’s a few things I learned about leadership from part one of Tim’s interview.

  1. Mistakes don’t just happen, there are a lot of lead ups to mistakes.  Charlie asked Tim about the blundered maps application roll out.  Instead of trying to cover up the mistake, Tim blatantly said that they messed up.  He owned up to it almost personally.  And then he alluded to the overarching principle that rarely does a mistake ever just happen as an organization, but rather there are all these indicators that line up that allow the mistake to happen.
  2. Surround yourself with different thinkers.  Charlie asked him about his executive team and how they operate as they have recruited some new faces to the team (beats acquisition, new head of retail, etc).  Tim responded that his preference is to surround himself with people that think differently that he does.  He alludes to the fact that the similar culture has to be there in order for that to work. However, finding people that compliment you as a CEO (or leader) is really important to putting out great work.
  3. Be Yourself.  This one seems obvious enough, but when Charlie started asking questions about filling Steve Job’s shoes, Tim provided some information about the candid conversations he had with Steve before he passed away.  Even Steve recognized the fact that Tim was a different person than he was, but still thought he was the one for the job.  The obvious case and point being that he picked him to replace him as CEO.  But he encouraged him to make decisions not based on “what would Steve do”, but on what Tim thought was right.

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