Reuters Profiles Tim Cook’s Leadership After Two Years as CEO of Apple

A new profile by Reuters highlights Tim Cook’s leadership style after nearly two years on the job.

While his workaholic and no-nonsense nature is already well-known, the Reuters report offers a few more nuggets about how Apple runs under him.

People who know him well paint a portrait of a thoughtful, data-driven executive who knows how to listen and who can be charming and funny in small group settings. […]

 

Still, he has a tough side. In meetings, Cook is so calm as to be nearly unreadable, sitting silently with hands clasped in front of himself. Any change in the constant rocking of his chair is one sign subordinates look for: when he simply listens, they’re heartened if there is no change in the pace of his rocking.

 

“He could skewer you with a sentence,” the person said. “He would say something along the lines of ‘I don’t think that’s good enough’ and that would be the end of it and you would just want to crawl into a hole and die.”

The Reuters report also highlights how decisive Tim can be, as seen with the Apple Maps fiasco that occurred after the launch of iOS 6.

Apple initially downplayed the glitches by saying Maps was a “major initiative” and they were “just getting started.” But behind the scenes, Cook bypassed Scott Forstall, the mobile software chief (and Jobs favorite) who was responsible for maps, and tasked internet services honcho Eddy Cue with figuring out what exactly happened and what should be done.

 

Cook had a lot of questions, and the episode also prompted him to fast-track his thinking on the future direction of the critical phone and tablet software known as iOS, a person close to Apple recounted.

 

Cook soon issued a public apology to customers, fired Forstall, and handed responsibility for software design to Jony Ive, a Jobs soul-mate who had previously been in charge only of hardware design.

 

“The vision that Tim had to involve Jony and to essentially connect two very, very important Apple initiatives or areas of focus – that was a big decision on Tim’s part and he made it independently and very, very resolutely,” said Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co. and an Apple director.

As with any company, employee morale remains important and Reuters notes a survey conducted by Dan Riccio, Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering. Many feel that Cook’s gentler regime is a welcome change.

Some Silicon Valley recruiters and former Apple employees at rival companies say they are seeing more Apple resumes than ever before, especially from hardware engineers, though the depth and breadth of any brain-drain remains difficult to quantify, especially given the recent expansion in staff numbers.

 

“I am being inundated by LinkedIn messages and emails both by people who I never imagined would leave Apple and by people who have been at Apple for a year, and who joined expecting something different than what they encountered,” said one recruiter with ties to Apple. […]

 

“It is not as crazy as it used to be. It is not as draconian,” said Beth Fox, a recruiting consultant and former Apple employee, adding that the people she knows are staying put. “They like Tim. They tend to err on the optimistic side.”

Finally, Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company and an Apple board director commented on Tim.

Bob Iger, the Apple director, said Cook had taken on “a very, very difficult role given the person that he’s succeeded and the company he’s running.”

 

“I think he’s done so with a deft hand, a strong sense of himself,” said Iger, who himself long toiled as the number two to a celebrated CEO, Michael Eisner. “With that comes a real self-honesty that he is who he is, and not what the world expects him to be, or what Steve was. And I like that.”

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