Ever since Tim Cook took over as CEO of Apple from the iconic Steve Jobs, it was evident that he, Cook, understood one big thing. He was not the iconic Steve Jobs. Since Cook could never hope to clone his brilliant predecessor, he would have to separate himself, and go on to forge his own identity as chief of Apple.
Arguably there is one domain in which this work has been done with particular care and deliberation – that of the follower. I am thinking of employees especially,, who either directly or indirectly, either at home or abroad, work for Apple.
This was first made apparent last January, when Cook was quick to respond to labor unrest at Foxconn, a major maker of Apple products located in China. Foxconn’s problems have by no means been solved . But, at least, Cook was quick to pay attention.
Moreover now it’s apparent that Cook is determined to do the same at home, at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Whereas Jobs openly disdained the perks and niceties that gladden the hearts of employees, Cook has made a point of providing them with some of what they want. Recent benefits to Apple people include a greater degree of autonomy, that is, freedom to work on what they want when they want; discounts on Apple products; and a program to match charitable giving. Cook also is demonstrably nicer to those who work for him than generally was Jobs Cook goes out of his way to publicly praise their work – nearly unheard of during the previous reign.
Jobs got away with intermittent bad behavior because he was a genuine genius, On the assumption that whatever his various capacities, genuine genius is not among them, Tim Cook is playing it smart. He is a leader in full, which translates into a leader in tune with his followers.