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Apple’s new CEO ripe for success

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In 2011, Tim Cook replaced the late Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple. Since then, the 52-year-old has gradually established himself as a leader in his own right.

Cook joined Apple in 1998 as a senior vice president. But after 13 years at the company, no one knew how the first-time CEO would handle the reins.

Within months of becoming CEO, Cook differentiated himself from Jobs in highly visible ways. Responding to em­­ployees’ requests, Cook initiated stock-buyback plans and charitable-giving programs. Jobs mostly rejected these activities.

More boldly, Cook announced major management moves in October 2012. For starters, Cook terminated an executive that he had personally hired just six months earlier.

In firing John Browett, who ran Apple’s retail operation, Cook demonstrated that he was secure enough to acknowledge his hiring mistake sooner rather than later. Browett reportedly launched a scheduling system that cut employees’ hours, stoking ire among staffers at Apple’s famous stores.

Leadership experts often advise CEOs to cut their losses quickly once they realize they’ve made a poor hiring decision. That’s what Cook did.

In another personnel move, Cook pushed out a senior executive who re­­portedly refused to sign a public apology letter over Apple’s defective maps software in the new iPhone 5. Even before this incident, however, Cook was allegedly concerned by the executive’s difficult personality.

In another impressive display of leadership, Cook accepted responsibility for the errors in the maps software. He could have shifted blame to the departing executive who ran the software team, but Cook chose to take the heat in public before arranging for the executive’s exit a few weeks later.

— Adapted from “Tim Cook’s humble leadership at Apple,” Jena McGregor, www.washingtonpost.com.

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