“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life” –Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Ceremony The world lost a luminary when Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Jobs was a visionary leader and is often credited for Apple’s amazing turnaround in the mid-nineties. For many years, the world perceived Jobs and Apple as integrally linked. As a result, consumers and investors now question Apple’s future and worry that the company cannot survive without Jobs. Since Jobs’ passing, Tim Cook has been tasked to continue Apple’s success. While Apple could potentially suffer long-term consequences from this switch, the more probable alternative is that the company will prosper because Cook is stronger leader than Jobs and can elevate Apple to a 10x level. Leadership DNA and the Collins 10X characteristics:
Vital characteristics of a Level 5 leader include a strong belief in intuition, extreme perseverance towards vision, and empathy for team members by relying on emotional intelligence. While Jobs succeeded in many of these areas, he did not possess the entire package of leadership skills. Jobs was widely quoted for saying, “Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” This persevering attitude and strong sense of intuition helped make Apple the successful company that it is today. But Jobs was also known for showing little concern for the emotional needs of team members. According to Fortune, he was “considered one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs.” This lack of empathy prevented Jobs from being a Level 5 leader. According to Collins, the leaders who run 10x companies “display extreme consistency of action with values, goals, performance standards and methods” Jobs definitely fit these criteria and was known for being fanatical about discipline.
He maintained the highest performance standards, which allowed him to push Apple to innovate on a constant basis. In addition, Jobs demonstrated both productive paranoia and empirical creativity throughout much of his career. He worked tirelessly with his product development teams. Whether it was the release of the Apple IIe or the release of the iPad, Jobs always obsessed over every detail of the projects and demanded that Apple release only the finest products. Jobs saw market opportunities in many different avenues and pioneered the idea of the “Apple Store.” His extreme attention to detail required him to oversee every nuisance of a project. However, discipline and vision are not enough to create a 10x company.
According to Collins, 10x companies require more than ambitious goals and determination. 10X organizations require Level 5 leaders who are able to put all their passion and ambition into “a cause or company larger than themselves.” Jobs’ motivation was grounded in egotism and personal aggrandizement, and he was more concerned with “putting a dent in the universe” than building an organization bigger than himself. Jobs was never able to elevate Apple to a 10x organizational because he was never a Level 5 leader. As a result, Tim Cook, a potential Level 5 leader, has an opportunity to test his skills and raise Apple to an organizational level that Jobs could never achieve. Tim Cooks’ Leadership:
Tim Cook has demonstrated multiple characteristics of a Level 5 leader. We believe Apple will be in a better position for sustained success under Cook’s leadership. Cook was recruited out of Compaq (Level 1 Leadership) to Apple in 1998 “with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple’s manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus.” Cook’s leadership on this crucial transition was exemplary. He demands the highest work product from himself and his employees (Level 4 Leadership). In addition, Cook can effectively manage individuals (Level 3 Leadership) and one key to his success as COO at Apple was his reliance “on a tight-knit team of operations executives who have been with him since he joined the company.” Cook has steadily been increasing his responsibilities since 2000, actively contributing to many different areas of the company (Level 2 Leadership).
Even though Tim Cook has been a CEO only for a short time, he has shown himself to be a potential Level 5 leader. Unlike Jobs, Cook takes on a humble leadership style. Cook is modest and does not crave the spotlight. He also accepts responsibility and admits Apple’s mistakes. In fact, Cook is willing to take ownership of errors made by the company, even when he could have blamed it on his employees. Also, Tim Cook has clearly demonstrated his willingness to communicate with investors and employees. This was a task that Jobs frequently struggled with as he had a tendency to keep tight reins on company information. In contrast to Jobs, Cook possesses humility, modesty, openness to communication skills, which allow him to trust his workforce and build a company that is bigger than himself. This skillset provides a strong foundation for a Level 5 leader. Conclusion:
Steve Jobs was an innovative leader; however, he did not achieve the status of a Level 5 leader. As a result, Jobs did not elevate apple to a 10x level. Jobs lacked humility, modesty, emotional intelligence and respect for others, which are crucial for a Level 5 leader. However, Tim Cook seems to garner all of these qualities. In the long run, stock prices are a reflection of trust in the growth of the company and the leadership team. We believe that Cook’s team is at a much better position to carry the Apple legacy forward than it was under Jobs. Therefore, Jobs’ passing will have no long-term effects on Apple’s trajectory and the company now has a better chance to reach a 10x level.
[ 1 ]. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html [ 2 ]. Id.
[ 3 ]. http://archive.is/20120604/http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/03/19/8402325/index.htm# [ 4 ]. Collins – Great by Choice – Page 36
[ 5 ]. Collins – Great by Choice – Page 37
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