Yukari Kane on Apple leadership styles: Jobs demanding, Cook inclusive, both intense


The NY Times has a brief interview with Yukari Kane, author of Haunted Empire, in which she contrasts the leadership styles of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Interestingly, while many see Cook as laid-back in contrast to the driven nature of the company’s co-founder, Kane says that both share an intensity.

I don’t think of Tim as laid back. In fact, he’s extremely intense. His intensity is just more quiet and dogged than Steve’s.

There is, of course, the obligatory anecdote to illustrate the obsession with detail and demands Jobs would make on his team.

Jobs routinely made a habit of calling people back mid-vacation […] for example, people had to work on Christmas Day because he decided he wanted a different color iPod shuffle at the last minute.

Despite her book’s contention that Apple is lost without Steve, she does acknowledge the strengths that Cook brings to the role.

Cook is also a better internal communicator. He sends out more all-staff emails and holds more town hall meetings. He also understands that people need to take vacations and have down time […]

Cook brings more efficiency and organization to Apple, which is good because the company’s increased size and scale requires a professional, consistent leadership style that is more inclusive than Steve Jobs’s was.

But doesn’t waste any time in returning to her theme.

In terms of profits and revenues, there is no question that Apple continues to be a successful company. But Apple’s own definition of success is much more. Its promise is to be exceptional – to make insanely great products that change the world. The latter is difficult to do without Steve Jobs’s reality distortion field. […]  If Apple stays on the current trajectory, I think the danger is that it could turn into Sony.

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  1. Steve Ballen - 9 years ago

    Ugh. Give me a break. Just another doomsday fanatic trying to capitalize on being able to formulate a decent argument for what cynics want to hear.

    If it was 2017 and we’d seen nothing dramatically new from Apple, I’d say there might be some validity to this. But even if higher market expectations should rightfully impact a company’s output (which I’m only partially convinced of), we’re still within 3 years of the death of the unparalleled visionary who founded and led this company. To judge them at this point as doomed is completely irrational and absurd, not to mention unfair.

    Show me one other company that’s outdone itself DURING the transition of leadership this drastic. How about some credit for the machine never once grinding to a halt? They may not have revolutionized any new product categories in the last 2.5 years (it was over 3 years between the iPhone and iPad under Jobs, and that was the tightest span ever), but last time I checked they still break a few personal and industry performance records every year, while indirectly launching multiple new blogs exclusively tailored to Apple rumors, and causing airhead competitors to launch half-baked products in pure unverified anticipation of their next move.

    Doomed my ass.

  2. Dave Huntley - 9 years ago

    By all accounts it’s really badly written and drones on rather than carry you along for the ride.
    The fact that it is such a rant, in essence that’s all it is, a biased, badly written rant, I find it laughable anyone would want to read. Sure, Apple is wiped out without Jobs, the company just loses money from every orifice…

  3. fredhstein - 9 years ago

    Does Kane really know anything? A few scoops. So what. Shameless self-serving exploitation.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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