Apple Leadership: a brief overview

Apple LeadershipDuring Steve Jobs era that covers the period 1997 – 2011, Apple leadership was autocratic with Steve Jobs micro-managing a wide range of business operations. It has been noted that “when Steve Jobs was in charge, everything flowed through him.”[1] Apple leadership practices have changed dramatically under Tim Cook. Acknowledged as the World’s Greatest Leader by Fortune Magazine[2], Tim Cook proved to be effective from various perspectives. Moreover, Tim Cook has been praised by employees for inspirational leadership and helping his subordinates to become a better human being.[3]

Apple leadership style integrates the following elements:


Democratic leadership style. In contrast to Apple founder and late CEO Steve Jobs highly autocratic leadership style, Tim Cook exercises and promotes democratic leadership. For Cook, it is important to build consensus among senior management regarding strategic decisions for the business. Moreover, since assuming the top role, Cook granted greater autonomy to new product development team, decreasing the direct participation of the CEO in new product development process.


“Quiet” leadership. Tim Cook has been praised for his quiet, yet effective leadership style. Nicknamed as “quiet leader” by some industry analysts[4], Cook is totally different from his charismatic predecessor, Steve Jobs.

At the same time, Tim Cook is occasionally criticized by analysts and industry watchers for the lack of ambition and vigour, his predecessor Steve Jobs used to have. For example, according to a report by BGC financial services firm, “under Cook, Apple has been cautious about entering new product categories. The Apple Watch, launched in April 2015, is the No. 1 smartwatch, but overall sales have disappointed. Apple Music, which debuted in June 2015, has grown rapidly to 15 million subscribers, but it’s seen as a low-margin business.”[5]

Currently, Apple Inc. faces a significant leadership challenges. It has been rightly noted that “Cook has set a standard of financial performance that is so high, it may be impossible to meet in the future.”[6] Furthermore, Apple senior leadership team has been criticized for the lack of diversity. Specifically, it has been found that “some 81% of the company’s senior officials are men and 82% of them are white. Of 107 leaders in the Silicon Valley company, 10 are Asian men, four are Asian women, two are black men, one is a black woman and two are Hispanic men”.[7]

Apple Inc Report contains a full analysis of Apple leadership. The report illustrates the application of the major analytical strategic frameworks in business studies such as SWOT, PESTEL, Porter’s Five Forces, Value Chain analysis, Ansoff Matrix and McKinsey 7S Model on Apple. Moreover, the report contains analyses of Apple business strategy, organizational structure and organizational culture. The report also comprises discussions of Apple marketing strategy, ecosystem and addresses issues of corporate social responsibility.


[1] Yarrow, J. (2013) Apple’s New Organizational Structure Could Help It Move Faster, Business Insider, Available at:

[2]Lashinsky, A (2015) “Apple’s Tim Cook leads different” Fortune, Available at:

[3] Bort, J. (2015) “Apple’s HR chief: Working with Tim Cook ‘actually helps you to be a better human being’” Business Insider, Available at:  

[4] Bradshaw, T. (2013) “Tim Cook: Apple’s quiet leader” Financial Times, Available at:

[5] Seitz, P. (2016) “Apple Could Use New CEO Leadership, Analyst Suggests” Investor’s Business Daily, Available at:

[6] Colvin, G. (2016) “Tim Cook’s Epic Growth Challenge at Apple” Fortune, Available at:

[7] Guynn, J. (2017) “Apple leadership is more than 80% white and male” USA Today, Available at: