In a much-quoted 2003 interview on the 60 Minutes television program, Steve remarked, “Great things in business are almost never done by a single person.” Yet the leadership of Apple was clearly dominated by one man. Now the reins have been passed, with Tim Cook doing what appears to be an eminently successful job of being the new Steve.
Clearly, the biggest challenge for Tim Cook as the new CEO of Apple is leading the company forward under that monumental shadow of Steve. Unlike some short-sighted leaders, Steve didn’t surround himself with yes men who can’t think for themselves. Instead, the team leaders he brought in to make Apple successful showed every sign of being completely capable of bearing the burdens that have been thrust upon them.
Perhaps the most brilliant part of Steve’s legacy was finding Tim Cook and bringing him along year by year to be ready to step into the CEO’s shoes whenever Steve needed to say goodbye to Apple. And perhaps that is the most important lesson in choosing your lieutenants: prepare someone who will be ready to take over for you, if and when.