Apple’s Tim Cook: #1 on Fortune’s List of ’The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

After naming Tim Cook as the world’s best leader, Fortune has today published an extensive profile of the Apple CEO, showcasing the man appointed to lead the world’s biggest company six weeks before Steve Jobs died. The lengthy article follows Tim Cook in his transformation from softly-spoken manager to inspirational leader and provides some additional background details on how his leadership differed from Jobs’.


The story begins with Tim Cook being appointed CEO of Apple. At the time he thought he was prepared for this job. Well, he needed to thicken his skin rapidly to be able to run the company effectively, he claims. We must not forget that stepped into the place of a company icon. Cook, however, quickly learned that he needed to block out the noise.

“I have thick skin,” he says, “but it got thicker. What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough because it’s not something we were fixated on. We were fixated on our products and running the business. But he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.”

He didn’t want to become Steve Jobs 2.0, Cook always tried to be himself, states Eddy Cue, senior vice president for Internet software and services, who joined Apple in 1989.

“He [Cook] has been very good at letting us do our thing. He’s aware and involved at the high end, and he gets involved as needed. Steve got involved at the pixel level.”

Tim Cook has learned his lessons the hard way during the past few years: let’s take his hire of John Browett as an example. Looking back to that episode, Cook sees it as part of his education as Chief Executive Officer.

But the results are now speaking for themselves: under Cook’s control, Apple’s stock surged from $92 (after the 7:1 stock split) to a record $126, and the company is now launching a new product, the highly anticipated Apple Watch.