MGT 310 Organizational Behavior
It counts for 20% of your full mark.
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Last day for submission: December 10th
Tim Cook took the helm of Apple as CEO in 2011 after serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
At the time, there were questions regarding how much of Apple’s success was due to its founder, Steve
Jobs, and whether anyone could live up to his legacy in terms of financial and innovation success. Since
he took over, Cook has had some big successes such as the iPhone 6, which led to record profits in
2014, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay. In 2018, the company had a market cap of over $920 billion—
roughly double that of Exxon Mobile or Microsoft, which are both considered major organizations.
It has been written that unlike his predecessor, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook doesn’t crave the spotlight. In
fact, he has been described as “one of the nicest and most charitable CEOs out there.” He advises
individuals to stay positive and “tune out” the cynics. He argues that if you don’t, “They become a
cancer in your mind.” That is not where the differences end, however, between the approaches taken
by Tim Cook and Steve Jobs.
Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has taken on more social issues. For example, since Cook took over,
Apple began using renewable energy for its operations, stood up to the FBI in defense of user privacy,
supported access to education, and advocated for LGBT rights. High school student Rebecca Kahn
asked Cook for an interview, and he granted her one. She writes that his “objective in life is to work
for some higher purpose.” When asked why she wanted to interview him, Kahn stated, “He is not just
in charge of the world’s largest tech company, but he personally advocates and stands up for things he
believes are right. He travels the world and meets with political and innovative leaders.”
Cook believes in diversity of leadership and leadership approaches. He values transparency, reads
customer emails (he says they serve to humble you), admits when he’s wrong, and argues that you can
only do a few things that rise to the level of “great.” In a speech at the University of Glasgow, Cook
had some advice for those in the audience, recommending, “You have to find the intersection of doing
something you’re passionate about and, at the same time, … is in the service of other people. I would
argue that, if you don’t find that intersection, you’re not going to be very happy in life.
Case discussion questions:
1. What did you know about Tim Cook prior to reading this case? Are you surprised to learn some
of these things about his leadership style? Justify your answer. (4 points)
2. Which leadership approaches (choose at least 2 approaches) discussed in this chapter do the
best job in explaining his leadership style? Explain why you chose these approaches. (4 points)
3. Given what you’ve learned about Cook’s leadership style, would you want to work for Apple?
Why or why not? (4 points)
4. Do you think there is a relationship between Cook’s leadership approach and Apple’s success?
Explain. (4 points)
5. What personal characteristics do you think makes Cook an effective leader? Explain. (4 points)