Does Tim Cook Need to Do A Better Job of Publicly Asserting Himself?

May 19, 2013
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Apple CEO Tim Cook is an interesting person. He marched his way to the top of Apple’s corporate ladder through hard work and an uncommon intelligence that Steve Jobs, one of the most highly respected chief executives in history, respected. Tim Cook was able to earn the job that countless people around the globe would love to have. And he did it with grace and respect for his predecessor.

But since his tenure as Apple’s chief executive, Cook has done little to be like his predecessor. Cook doesn’t like to gloat about the current state of affairs at Apple, and design is not necessarily something that he thinks constantly about. When he holds keynote addresses or events for the press, Cook is content to offer up only some information, and then leave the big product announcements to his executives.

Even in his calls with investors or interviews with the media, Cook plays a downplayed rule, deciding to allow his company’s strong performance to do the talking. It’s a significant departure from his predecessor’s tack, and something that has taken some getting used to for the millions of Apple fans around the globe.

But given Apple’s recent troubles and the fact that Samsung and Google are increasingly causing trouble for Cook, might it be a good time for some change? Apple might still be the most important technology company in the world, but it’s in no way the dominating presence that it once was. And much of that seems to be due to Cook’s leadership.

[aquote]That's not to say Cook is not a good leader[/aquote]

Now, that’s not to say that Tim Cook is not a good leader. As we’ve seen in recent quarters, Apple’s sales and profit figures are hitting new heights, and his shareholders appear to be happy with his performance. But since Cook took over, Apple has lost something. The things that made the company so compelling in the first place are now a shadow of their former selves. And it might have everything to do with who is sitting in the CEO’s chair.

The problem is, Tim Cook doesn’t have the charisma or the attitude that Steve Jobs had. Part of Apple’s success was due to Jobs willingly telling anyone that would listen that his company was best. And when given the chance to show off the latest and greatest product, it was Jobs who captivated audiences, not his executives.

Tim Cook’s more subdued role might prove to be a mistake in the grand scheme of things. Apple seems to be a company that needs to have a chip on its shoulder. And Cook is lacking that certain chip.

The truth is, Apple is slipping. The company that was once the only dominant force in several markets is looking like one of a few competitors. Apple doesn’t appear to have the same air about it that it once did. And that might be due to Tim Cook’s desire to be, well, less Steve Jobs-like. But if you ask me, he needs to be more like Steve Jobs.


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