One of the more persistent myths about Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was that he was a maniacal cult leader whose sole management tactic was mentally bludgeoning employees into producing good work. Jobs certainly had that side of him, as numerous anecdotes had shown us. However, what made Jobs really effective was his recognition and cultivation of talent, which is something that Apple CEO Tim Cook makes a point of emphasizing in an interview with Fast Company.
“Steve was almost viewed from the exterior as the micromanager checking to make sure that every i was dotted, and every t was crossed, that every circuit was correct, that every color was exactly right,” Cook explains. “And yes, he made a lot of decisions. His capacity was unbelievable. But he was just one person — and he knew that.”
Indeed, if we look at the talent at Apple that blossomed under Jobs’ watch — from Jony Ive to Eddy Cue to the departed Scott Forstall — we can see that Jobs left behind a huge group of ambitious people who weren’t going to just slack off once he wasn’t there to yell at them anymore.
“It was his selection of people that helped propel the culture,” says Cook. “You hear these stories of him walking down a hallway and going crazy over something he sees, and yeah, those things happened. But extending that story to imagine that he did everything at Apple is selling him way short. What he did more than anything was build a culture and pick a great team, that would then pick another great team, that would then pick another team, and so on.”
Read Cook’s full interview with Fast Company by clicking here.