Thursday, June 5, 2014

4:30:00 AM - No comments

An assessment of Tim Cook as a corporate leader

Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, creative professionals, educators and consumers around the world through it’s innovative hardware, software and internet offerings. Thus claims the mission statement of Apple Company. The miracle leader who serves as the current CEO of Apple is Tim Cook. Tim Cook was born in Alabama, graduated from Robertsdale High school, obtained a BS degree in engineering from Auburn University, and completed his MBA at Duke’s University. He has worked as the Chief operations Officer of Intelligent electronics and is currently the world’s highest paid CEO.

He has shown personal achievement in his career so far when looking at his previous job experience; a good trait in a leader. He has the ability to formulate a clear vision for Apple. Values, passion, confidence and courage are essential skills to a leader. Tim Cook showed his confidence and courage when he faced hard criticism for the WWDC iOS 6 that featured Google maps in it. In 2013, under his leadership and guidance Apple produces the iOS 7 which, in an interview with Bloomberg he says “its significantly better than 6 or any that came before it, and obviously better than the other [1]iOS out there” (Bloomberg, 2013). As the leader of a creative company his words would play an important role when it comes to marketing. Tim cook understands that the market grows, customers’ desires grow and the company must cater to those needs. Therefore he guides the company to produce apple iphone 4S, 5C and 5S models to suit different income levels so that everybody could have an iphone experience. Another quality of Tim Cook is that under his leadership Apple sustained and grew it’s market in the third world, Europe and America. He has a wonderful personality and charisma. He would walk into an interview and instead of waiting for the interviewer to start he would strike a casual conversation about the stock market, an Apple product or the weather. This makes it easier for people to communicate with him.

Apple is a creative business and it requires constant change to keep up with the ever evolving market. It’s leader must have the ability to take risks and manage them. In his heart Tim Cook poses Change leadership. Leadership styles can differ according to situations. When Steve Jobbs underwent surgery and took medical leave, Tim cook had to work as acting CEO. There we see a certain delegation and it was also during the time that iOS 6 received negative comments from users. A few months later Steve Jobbs would resign appointing Tim Cook as CEO. Steve Jobbs is referred to as “the master evangelist of the digital age” and is a co-founder of Apple. Tim Cook could either live in the shadows of a transformational leader or become somebody entirely different. That doesn’t mean he could become Gandhi, or even Paul Allen because of the nature of the business. Apple needs to focus on both sustaining its current position in the face of competition from Android as well as be creative and produce more updates and novel technologies. Tim Cook thus possesses change leadership that leads and manages change.

It was under his leadership that Apple introduced iOS 5, iPhone 4S, Siri, iCloud an iPad with Retina display and an updated Apple TV. Different leaders chose different approaches when it comes to ups and downs in the stocks. Tim cooks says “I have never attached myself to the stock, and so I don’t feel euphoric on the up, and I don’t slit my wrists when it goes down. I have ridden the roller coaster too many times for that”  In contrast to Cook, Steve Jobbs was a perfectionist with an aggressive, demanding personality and made into Fortune’s list of America’s toughest bosses. He openly criticized Dell laptops as “un-innovative beige boxes”. Tim Cook however is cool about the heavy competition and signs of Android (Samsung) trying to dominate the market. He observes “there are more players”.

It is important to understand that Apple company operates in an ever-changing market because technology changes on a monthly-basis. Nokia updates their smart phones as fast as we change clothes. If Nokia lumia is a smart phone series, a new one would pop-up once in every two months. Ipad mini wasn’t a great hit in the third world. There is always something lacking in technological products such as ipads, pcs and phones because of the increasing new products in windows 8, BlackBerry, and Android and consumers wanting more. It is important in such a case for Apple to be creative and find ways in which production caters to customers’ needs and find ways in marketing the product to the seven continents of the world.  Steve Jobbs was a born marketer and possess consummate skill in persuasion and salesmanship. When he was criticized for the poor recycling program of Apple he expanded Apple’s recycling program to any US customer who bought a new Mac. It included shipping and environmental friendly disposal of the old system. Tim Cook on the other hand upholds the marketing strategies of the company but his vision would seem different as he shares three keys to leadership focusing a lot on human resource management (a problematic area in change leadership): people, strategy and execution “If you get those three right the world is a better place” (wikipaedia,2012)

Management and leadership are two different concepts. Managers tend to adopt passive attitudes towards goals whereas Tim Cook as a leader would show passion and strength to drive all the workforce to achieve them. For him, vision, mission, goals are more personal and active, specially when the world looks at Apple’s CEO to see if he would either live in Steve Jobb’s shadow or bring greater, positive change to Apple. Under Cook’s leadership the trust capital of Apple probably grew with the sales of the ipads, ipods and creative operating systems that maximized application functioning. Paul Allen and Bill Gates found Microsoft Company. Microsoft, Blackberry and Motorola were the leaders in the Smartphone industry when Apple came in to the scene. Apple iphone has become the most successful Smartphone, that they have a patent regarding the shape and structure. Blackberry might have innovated the Qwerty Keypad but today they try to imitate Apple iphone’s shape with their BlackBerry Z 10 but to no avail. Apple iphone is still regarded best.

Under his leadership Apple has increased the donations they make to charity. Tim cook in many instances has shown ways in which he was able to motivate staff to achieve goals.  Tim Cook urged senators to the employment non-discrimination Act that protects employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Forbes, 2013) His relationship with important stakeholders such as suppliers is amazing. He struck a deal with GT technologies for a multi-year agreement to supply Apple with their sapphire specialty glass. After Tim Cook released the 2013 fiscal year earnings and 2014 expected capital expenses, the annual reports consists of how he would utilize the money for corporate facilities and infrastructure development along with software, hardware and technology enhancements. This would motivate employees and would have a positive impact on their work. He focuses on developing the working environment as a part of inspiring and motivating the employees to achieve the vision and mission of the company. Therefore his qualities make him a leader, not simply a manager.

In conclusion, Tim Cook possess extraordinary skills and attributes needed for leadership, he focuses on motivating and inspiring employees and possess an appropriate leadership style which moves from change leadership to transformational in terms of managing human resources and his focus on strategy. He possesses strengths and appears on the same level when compared with Steve Jobbs, Bill Gates, and Paul Allen when it comes to innovation and creativity that Apple Company sustained so far as a luxury brand. He can truly inspire people to achieve the long-term objectives of the Apple Company. To round off the discussion on Tim Cook, he gave a perfect answer to Bloomberg interviewer when he was asked this question “while phones represent a high end of the industry, there’s another part of the industry that’s racing toward the bottom. Chinese manufacturers, Indian manufacturers, $100 phones, $150 phones. What do you think about that? What does that mean for Apple?”. Tim Cook replied “The tablet market is the same case. It sort of bifurcates. You’ve got the players down here that would say—you know, your kid is tugging at you saying, “Daddy, I got to have a tablet.” And you just want to shut them up and buy something cheap. That’s not a market I’m crazy about. I’d like to convince you that the iPad is a better experience and that your kid’s going to learn a lot from using it. And the experience they’re going to have talking to their grandmother across FaceTime is unbelievable, and it’s going to change your life by doing that. I’m not trying to say “Pick me” to shut up your kid. (Bloomberg, 2013). Tim Cook is thus, a 21st century great corporate leader.

[1] Smartphone operating system

- by Natasha Fernando