What Can We Learn From Tim Cook’s CEO Succession Plan?

What can we learn from Tim Cook’s CEO succession plan?What can we learn from Tim Cook’s CEO succession plan?

Earlier this week we talked about why Apple’s succession strategy worked. We shared that one of the traits of a successful successor is the leader must know where they are going and what key capabilities are required to help get them there. How Tim Cook began building his succession strategy.

Today, we talk about the intangible elements in successful succession planning and how you might apply them to your own succession strategy. I believe these intangible elements are critical in building a lasting legacy for your organization.

The second key element of a successful succession strategy is knowing what you are good at and what you are not. Tim Cook took time to understand the organization he would be leading. He’s invested significant time knowing the many moving parts that supported Steve’s mission, vision, and values. When you talk to people about Tim, they tell you he has significant relationship invested across the organization. He and his team created a fully integrated organization. Tim has built his high performing organization on the strengths of Apple’s people. Steve and he created a number of high performing teams inside the organization to help keep innovation alive within the organization.

Tim Cook is seen as great manager of Apple. In this era of connected leadership, Tim Cook still understands the value of being a great manager. As importantly, he sees the value of having great managers around him. Tim Cook is the kind of leader both Peter Drucker and W. Edwards Deming would have loved. Much of the great leadership books spend significant time on how important leadership is to a growing business. Without great management over time successful larger organizations stop growing.  It is critical to have a balanced approach as a CEO. Tim has helped create a model of this moving forward.

Finally, if you want a successful succession strategy implemented, hire an individual who is willing to serve a higher purpose with their work. Tim Cook is a man who was not intimidated by the most intimidating CEO of our time. We can learn more about Tim Cook by looking at what he didn’t do when he was slotted to take over for Steve Jobs. Many insiders thought that many of the other remarkable leaders in Apple would take over after Steve passed away. The people I know always felt it would be Tim Cook.

Tim Cook invested significant time both inside and outside the organization to ensure Apple’s succession strategy would take place. He met with board members, he got to know many of the people who covered Apple and, last, he made sure all the best people in the organization knew how much he valued their input and talents. He served as a leader who was able to help get the most out of all the different leaders on his teams.

During this time, he also cultivated significant relationships with other industry CEOs who might be great partners for Apple over time. The true leadership test for Tim was how to respect the incredible past while creating an even more dynamic future for Apple. He did this by building trust with his partners throughout Steve’s illness. He has a different approach to leadership than many other successful technology CEOs. These collaborative strengths allow him the agility he needs to continue growing Apple into the future.

Over the last several years of Steve’s life, he spent significant time with Steve Jobs. He built an incredibly deep relationship through mutual trust and admiration. It is hard to imagine how hard it must be to see someone you care for go through what Steve was going through. It tells you much about Tim Cook and how he handles challenging situations.  He handles them with compassion.

I believe this is why he has been able to successfully build bridges to the many stakeholders within the Apple and tech communities. I also believe it will allow him to continue growing far beyond the products and services Steve and his teams created.

So will Tim Cook be able to continue to grow Apple? Only time will tell, but I believe we have just started to see where he and his teams will take technology. Hang on; I think we’re in for an incredible experience.

See you next Tuesday where we begin talking about building your own million dollar network.

About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with individuals, families, and businesses on getting rid of all their debt, including their mortgages, in less than 9 years. We do this while supporting wealth creation and transfer. My goal is ensuring that your money outlives you and your family for generations to come.

My practice focuses on midlife entrepreneurs, technology professionals, and engineers. I develop a wealth creation strategy that fits who you are and what you want to achieve. Think of it as growing your wealth, your way. It’s a street-smart way of managing your priorities and goals to help you achieve financial independence.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact me at tbraden@marketleadership.net or send me an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s business growth blog at Market Leadership Journal.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Empowering Serving Leaders.


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