For years we have been exposed to incredible leadership lessons from Apple founder Steve Jobs after he pioneered the revolution of personal computers, phones, tablet computing, music and digital publishing.
In 1998, Jobs asked Tim Cook to join Apple. In a speech at Auburn University, Cook said he decided to join Apple after meeting Jobs for the first time:
No more than five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple. My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.
In 2011, six weeks before Jobs’ death, Cook succeeded as Apple’s CEO. By April 2012, Time Magazine included Cook on its annual “100 Most Influential People in the World” list. Fast forward to 2015, and Fortune magazine has named Cook “The World’s Greatest Leader”.
Here are 7 lessons to learn from Apple’s Tim Cook:
1. Be true to yourself.
Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue: “He [Tim] never tried to be Steve. He tried to always be himself. He has been very good at letting us do our thing”.
In October 2014, Cook came out as gay in a Bloomberg Businessweek editorial. As a public figure he has always stood up for LGTBI rights, but in the editorial Cook stated “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” Following this public statement, Cook became the first openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500 list.
2. Diversity is important.
Always at the forefront of innovation, Apple requires individuals with unique perspectives to help create and pave the future. Bringing out the best in employees is a critical skill that Cook has mastered, saying: “We want diversity of thought. We want diversity of style. We want people to be themselves.”
3. Be generous.
His current net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock stands at approximately $120 million. When his current stock options vest it will be close to a billion at least. Cook reportedly told Fortune Magazine that aside from assuring the college education of his 10-year-old nephew, he plans to give away all his money.
4. Take risks.
We all know the powerful quote by Voltaire, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Cook fully invests in this philosophy, but also believes in calculated risks; that we take risks knowing that risks will sometimes result in failure. He says, “Without the possibility of failure there is no possibility of success”.
5. There’s a lesson in every mistake.
When Apple lost hundreds of millions of dollars on its sapphire plant, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations Jeff Williams reported that Cook responded positively, “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. Do it well.
Cook stresses that their focus on excellence is key to Apple’s continued success. With every product launch, Apple focuses on improving its foundation and the products that people love.
7. Put your money where your mouth is.
Fox Business reported that Cook chose to forfeit up to a third of his stock-based compensation when Apple’s stock was tanking. At the time, this was nearly 130 million dollars over 8 years if the stock under-performed the S&P 500. As actions speak louder than words, Cook chose to lead by example by putting his money where his mouth is.