When ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs turned the reins of the consumer electronics giant over to Tim Cook in 2011, the common feeling was that there was no way that he could fill the shoes of the co-founder / turnaround legend. It took very little time for Cook to cement his place in the world as a great corporate leader. Now Fortune has named Cook the top leader in the world in a list encompassing business, government, philanthropy, and more.
Cook shares the top 50 list for 2015 with some incredible names: Pope Francis (#4), Supreme Court Justice John Roberts Jr. (#8), GM CEO Mary Barra (#9), philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates (#18), Elon Musk (#23), and Mark Zuckerberg (#25) to name a few. What made Fortune consider Cook for the top spot?
The 54-year-old Cook was lauded for just how well he’s been able to change the company that was dominated by Jobs for so long. Apple’s share price has risen from a split-adjusted $54 to $126 since Jobs died, and the company was the first to gain a market capitalization greater than $700 billion. The company’s cash position has risen to more than $150 billion, even after the company — on Cook’s direction — began paying dividends and making stock buybacks.
Fortune writer Adam Lishinsky pointed out that Cook has followed a completely different path from Jobs, and it’s helped rather than hindered the company. Rather than disdaining IT departments and “the enterprise” as Jobs did, Cook led the company into a powerful partnership with IBM and is emphasizing the opportunity to sell to enterprises. According to some, Jobs thought that corporate philanthropy was a waste; Cook has pushed philanthropy, encourages employee giving, and today announced that he will be giving his fortune away upon his death.
Rather than hogging the limelight as Jobs did, Cook lets his top executives gather the praise that they deserve. Jobs didn’t want to pay dividends or consider stock buybacks; Cook has made this a priority. And Jobs hated the idea of big acquisitions, while Cook had no problems buying audio company Beats for $3 billion.
So by being different — something that Apple has touted over the years, even in a late 1990’s ad campaign — Cook has made the company even more successful than Jobs could have dreamed. Lishinsky’s article goes into a lot of depth about how the company has fared under Cook’s leadership, and it’s definitely a good read. Congratulations to Cook on receiving this honor for his leadership.