📺 Stream EntrepreneurTV for Free 📺

Apple's Tim Cook on Leadership: 'The Most Important Data Points Are People' Cook, who took over for Steve Jobs in 2011, stresses that CEOs need to make swift decisions.

By Laura Entis

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Reuters | Robert Galbraith

When Tim Cook assumed the role of Apple's CEO in 2011, he had some near-impossible shoes to fill. Steve Jobs was already a legend, his status as a genius, once-in-a-century innovator having been cemented long before his death six weeks later.

How do you directly follow the force behind the iPhone, iMac, iPad and iTunes? Simply put, there is no way to prepare, Cook told Fortune in an in-depth interview. After becoming CEO, he was immediately beset by predictions that Apple would sink without Jobs and that, as the company's new leader, he would usher in an age of un-innovation. This, of course, has so far failed to play out: Under Cook, the company has rolled out the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, among other potentially game-changing projects.

Cook says his baptism-by-fire – which included the Apple Maps debacle and some high-profile hires and subsequent firings – taught him valuable lessons about the art of leadership.

Related: Tim Cook Reveals the Sectors Apple Wants to Conquer Next

Cook has an operations background. As an engineer, he told Fortune, you have the luxury of analyzing specific problems. But as CEO, there are so many realms -- hiring, culture, marketing, product design etc. – that need to be managed at once. "You're engaged in so many things that each particular thing gets a little less attention," he said. "You need to be able to operate on shorter cycles, less data points, less knowledge, less facts."

As CEO, he says, "if you believe that the most important data points are people, then you have to make conclusions in relatively short order." It's a lesson Cook learned in early 2013, when he hired John Browett, the former head of the U.K.-based discount electronics chain Dixon's. It was quickly apparent that Browett didn't fit in with Apple's culture, and instead of hemming Cook swiftly cut him loose, firing him in March of that year. "You want to push the people who are doing great," told the outlet. "And you want to either develop the people who are not or, in a worst case, they need to be somewhere else."

Related: With ResearchKit, Apple Wants to Use Your iPhone For Medical Research

Laura Entis is a reporter for Fortune.com's Venture section.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Franchise

Franchising Is Not For Everyone. Explore These Lucrative Alternatives to Expand Your Business.

Not every business can be franchised, nor should it. While franchising can be the right growth vehicle for someone with an established brand and proven concept that's ripe for growth, there are other options available for business owners.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Passengers Are Now Entitled to a Full Cash Refund for Canceled Flights, 'Significant' Delays

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced new rules for commercial passengers on Wednesday.

Leadership

Why Companies Should Prioritize Emotional Intelligence Training Alongside AI Implementation

Emotional intelligence is just as important as artificial intelligence, and we need it now more than ever.

Business News

Elon Musk Tells Investors Cheaper Tesla Electric Cars Should Arrive Ahead of Schedule

On an earnings call, Musk told shareholders that Tesla could start producing new, affordable electric cars earlier than expected.