Tim Cook Still Keeps this Habit He Learned from Steve Jobs. Why Every Leader Should Try It


It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to take over the position of CEO of Apple from its legendary founder, Steve Jobs. Obviously, in hindsight, Tim Cook did everything well. When he took over in 2011, Apple was worth around $340 billion. Today it is the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of over $2.4 trillion.

Obviously, Cook and Jobs are very different people and very different types of leaders. Jobs was one of the most famous entrepreneurs to ever start a business. He is known as the creative force behind the iMac, iPod, MacBook Air and iPhone. Each of these are products that have defined their respective categories.

Cook, on the other hand, is known as an operations guru who grew Apple through his ability to streamline its supply chain and squeeze massive profits from every device sold. A strategy that worked, even if it looks very different from its predecessor.

However, the two leaders have one thing in common. Or more specifically, there’s a habit Cook has maintained all along that he learned from Jobs. Every Monday morning at 9:00 a.m., Cook meets with Apple’s top executives — something Jobs started.

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“In a lot of ways it’s still going the way Steve set it up,” Cook told Kara Swisher at the code conference earlier this month.

I think there are actually two lessons here. First, when you lead a team, your job is to build a structure that will set your team up for success. Getting everyone in a room to go through the store is a good start.

As Jobs explained in a 2008 interview with Fortune magazine:

“I want them to make decisions that are as good or better than I am. To do that, they need to know everything, not just about their part of the business, but about every part of the business.

So we check the whole deal every Monday. We look at what we sold the week before. We look at every single product that is in development, products that we are having trouble with, products that are in greater demand than we can make. We review everything that is in development. And we do that every week. I set an agenda – 80% is the same as last week and we just go through it each week.

We don’t have many processes at Apple, but it’s one of the few things we do just to keep everyone on the same page.”

Apple is a much bigger company than it was when Jobs started getting its top executives into a room on Monday mornings. That means it’s even more important to do whatever it takes to stay on track. In a 2015 interview with 60 Minutes, Cook told Charlie Rose that one of the reasons he’s continuing the meeting is because of what he learned from Jobs.

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“This is Steve’s company. It’s still Steve’s company,” Cook said. “It was born that way, it still is that way. His spirit will always be in the DNA of this company.”

This leads to the other lesson, which is to have a learner’s attitude. When you’re in charge – whether as a manager or especially when you become a CEO – it’s easy to think that just because you’re making the decisions, you must be right. Sure, if you’re the boss, there’s a good chance people will do what you ask, but that doesn’t mean you’ve figured it all out.

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Apparently, Cook had already spent years learning from Jobs before taking over. He learned the things that mattered and the things that made Apple Apple. Not everyone is given the task of succeeding a personality as outsized as Steve Jobs, but there is still someone to learn from.

“One of the last pieces of advice he had for me and for all of you was to never ask what he was going to do. ‘Just do what’s right,'” Cook said at a memorial service when Jobs died. Investing in your team, making sure everyone is on the same page, and giving them the opportunity to help you make decisions is always the right thing to do.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own and not those of Inc.com.



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