The Apple management style is a case study in all major business schools. Entrepreneurs and business owners across the world have tried to understand the Apple management style and it would remain a point of interest for years and decades to come.
Many people equate Apple management style with Steve Jobs leadership style. That is accurate but it should be stated with a small caveat. Steve Jobs was not always at the helm of the company. So there was an interim phase when Apple management style was not that of Steve Jobs alone and then there came a phase when Tim Cook took over and the management style changed significantly. Let us decipher the Apple management style under Steve Jobs and then Tim Cook.
Under Jobs, the Apple management style was dictatorial. Steve Jobs was an autocrat. He was an authoritative figure and did not tolerate dissent. No one’s opinion mattered more than his but he was not closed to reject all suggestions coming his way. He encouraged people to think, imagine and to be creative. In fact, the Apple management style was driven by the motto ‘think different’.
Steve Jobs was a perfectionist. He was a tough taskmaster and he was fiercely against mediocrity. So those who were talented got due recognition under his leadership and those who stood against him were fired. Once Jobs would make up his mind, no one could deter him or have a different way forward. It was his way or the highway. Steve Jobs’ Apple management style was discomforting and suffocating for many but it was always geared towards the best interests of the company. So many actually thrived and excelled under his leadership.
A Change in Leadership
Apple management style underwent a significant change when Jobs handed over the reins to Tim Cook. On his part, Cook is much more accommodating of opposing or contrarian opinions. He encourages discussion and participation. He is not dictatorial. Instead, he practices participative management style. While Cook does bring in a degree of leniency in Apple management style, there is a slowdown in the decision making process.
Today, the Apple management style is all about Tim Cook. He is a socially and environmentally responsible leader. He treats the employees with respect whereas Jobs was vigorous and aggressive with his treatment. Cook feels for the employees and works on the values that Apple must impart.
Which Apple management style is better is for history to judge. For now, one can say that both styles have worked well for the company.