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15 Leadership Lessons from Tim Cook

19 June 2021

Tim Cook Is a Successful Leader Taking Apple to Great Heights. Here’s What You Can Learn from Him.

Aluxers, we’ve brought you 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and today we expand on Apple’s CEO with 15 Leadership Lessons from Tim Cook.

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With that out of the way, let’s bounce back to the article.

1

Use Your Position to Benefit Others

Tim Cook is a firm believer that giving back is what makes a great leader. He knows the importance of building communities, of looking after our environment, and creating jobs to improve the lives of entire families.

In his own words, he says “One of the things you do is give back. So how do you give back? “We give back through our work in the environment, in running the company on renewable energy. We give back in job creation.”

We spoke very similarly in our video, 15 Most Valuable Lessons from Buddha, where we spoke about sharing wisdom and knowledge to benefit others. We encourage you to watch it.

2

Be Humble

Despite his busy schedule, Cook still pops into an Apple store on the odd occasion. He enjoys engaging with his customers – whether it’s face-to-face or reading their emails.

During a 2019 trip to Japan, Cook not only met with Apple employees, but made time to see children of the Rikkyo Primary School, and spent time at Keio University School of Medicine.

According to Fortune.com, “Apple Store employees lose it when Tim Cook makes a surprise visit,” which the CEO did in 2015 by visiting an Apple store in London.

As Cook has said, “Not allowing yourself to become insular is very important–maybe the most important thing, I think, as a CEO.”

Aluxers, remember to subscribe to our channel as you continue reading this article – we have loads of video we’d love to share with you.

3

Be True to Yourself

Taking over from Steve Jobs was big shoes to fill, but Cook didn’t try to be Steve Jobs, he remained true to himself.

Cook is the only openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500 list and has always stood up for LGBTQ rights.

As reported by CNN Business Edition, despite being an extremely private person, Cook said emails and letters came from children who said they had been ostracized, bullied or abused because of their sexual orientation, and he came out because he realized he was being “selfish” not doing so.

4

Admit When You’re Wrong

Aluxers, we know how hard it is to admit when we’re wrong, but by admitting fault and taking responsibility means that you will gain a whole lot more respect than if you don’t.

Being a strong leader means understanding where you went wrong, saying sorry and fixing the problem.

Cook has made mistakes, and he has admitted openly to them. For example, hiring John Browett as head of Apple Stores. The arrangement only lasted 6-months in 2012, but Cook should not have made that appointment.

5

There’s a Lesson in Every Mistake

Aluxers, the thing about making a mistake is that there is always a lesson to be learnt… even if that lesson is “I must not f*ck up again.” And with Cook, he knows this all too well.

Here’s a good example from 2014 as reported by the Wall Street Journal, “Apple and GT had hailed a $1 billion plan to build an Arizona factory that would produce 30 times as much sapphire as any other plant in the world.” In short, GT Advanced Technologies Inc. filed for bankruptcy and Apple lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, how do you think Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, responded over this big misstep labelled the ‘Boule Graveyard’?

He said, “Let’s see what we can learn from it. We’re not going to bat a thousand. And we’re going to keep betting on great technologies for our customers”.

6

Privacy Is Important

One of the biggest feuds now, is between Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook. And although there has always been tension between Apple and Facebook, this war of words has been covered in the media extensively.

It’s all to do with iOS 14’s App Tracking Transparency.

Zuckerberg says it will negatively influence small businesses and Cook says that users should decide whether advertisers can track user’s activity across apps.

As we said, Cook is a firm believer in privacy, and in this case, his leadership lesson is that he is firmly sticking up for the right to privacy for his users.

In a case of he said, he said… or he Tweeted, he Tweeted…

Zuckerberg said, “We are standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere. Internet should be open. Apple is a threat to free internet.”

Cook said, “We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first.”

7

Diversity Is Important

When we mention diversity, we are not referring to age, gender, religion, or race – we refer to the diversity of ideas and thought.

Without unique ideas and thought, we can’t be innovative. Tim Cook has said, “We want diversity of thought. We want diversity of style. We want people to be themselves.”

We’ve got a free Audible download for you, and suggest you listen to “Tim Cook – The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level” by Leander Kahney. Go to alux.com/freebook

8

Trust Others around You

One of the many reasons Tim Cook is a great leader is that he trusts his team. There’s a reason those people were employed. They know what they’re doing, and a good leader needs to show their employees that they trust them.

And part of being a great leader is also acknowledging that you don’t know everything. There’s no shame in that. You are more respected for that, than pretending you know everything.

We share what Tim Cook so aptly said, “To whom much is given, much is expected. I do believe this. It’s embedded in me.”

Harvard Business Review classified Tim Cook as a “multiplier,” a leader who makes employees smarter, more innovative, and more competent via his leadership style.

9

Listen Well

It is so important for a leader to listen. If a leader doesn’t listen, it has a ripple effect of unhappiness and discontentment.

When listening, repeat what that person said by paraphrasing it… because it would be a little weird if you repeated it verbatim… acknowledge that you understand what your employee said and work together to come up with a solution. By doing this, your employee feels valued, heard, and understood.

This is something that Tim Cook does well. However, a true test now on his leadership will be how he handles the letter he received from his staff stating they are not keen to return to the office three days a week from September and should be given the option to continue working from home.

The letter, according to the Verge, stated that workers delivered “the same quality of products and services that Apple is known for, all while working almost completely remotely.”

10

Express Gratitude

You might think that when you’re CEO of Apple, you don’t really have time for showing thanks – but it’s the fact that a CEO of a big company makes and takes the time to show thanks, that makes him a great leader.

The CEO, Tim Cook is often seen publicly thanking his staff at Apple and expressing his gratitude towards them. And Aluxers, it’s the simplest thing to do. A thank you takes one second to say, and that will motivate an employee for weeks!

15 Leadership lessons from Tim Cook

If you are feeling ungrateful, get some motivation from 15 Things to Be Grateful For

11

Do What You Do Well

You’re probably no stranger to the range of Apple products available and if you think about it, it’s not that many.

Cook wants to excel at what they do. As he said, “… if you really look at it, we have four iPods. We have two main iPhones. We have two iPads, and we have a few Macs. That’s it.” His philosophy is that one “can only do a few things great.” He imparted these comments during an interview for Business Week as featured on Bloomberg.

12

Write Your Own Rules

Tim Cook did a Q & A at Duke University where he advices, “write your own rules.” He was asked by a student, “when should we listen to our professors and when is it ok not to? And his response went as follows:

“I think you should rarely follow the rules.

I think you should write the rules.

I think if you do follow things in a formulaic manner, you will wind up at best being the same as everybody else.

Maybe you missed something and you’re a little worse.

And if you want to excel, you can’t do that.”

13

Use Your Intuition

In the same Q & A, Tim Cook, the Apple CEO encourages people to use their intuition. At the time that Cook went over to Apple, he had just started a new job at Compaq. Compaq was a thriving company, whereas Apple was on the brink of disaster.

But after speaking with Steve Jobs for 5 minutes, Cook just knew that Apple was going to be a success and that he would be a part of it.

He adds that he doesn’t believe intuition is something we’re born with but comes over time and practice.

So Aluxers, trust your intuition, as Cook says “I’m an engineer and an analytical person at heart. The most important decisions that I’ve made had nothing to do with any of that. They were always based on intuition.”

14

Hire the Right People

Aluxers, in many of our articles we’ve spoken about the importance of not hiring a person purely based on their CV. A CV could have a million and one good points, but if that employee doesn’t match with other staff members, all the good points just fall away.

Cook has certain things that he looks for when hiring, and here are some of them. People that are not political, are not bureaucrats, people that don’t care who gets credit but can privately celebrate the achievement and people who are team players.

He wants someone who at 11 o’ clock at night has an idea and they want to get in touch with someone right away because they’re so excited, and the bonus, is that they know the person on the other line will be excited too.

And he’s made hiring errors, as we mentioned earlier, but he learns from those mistakes.

15

Take Responsibility

“If you want to take credit, first learn to take responsibility.” Cook spoke these powerful words at the 2019 Stanford Commencement.

Own your good and your bad. Work on the bad and share the good. You’re a work in progress Aluxers, so use this valuable lesson from a great leader to inspire you daily.

Question:

Aluxers, what is it about Tim Cook that you admire the most? We’d love to hear from you.