Why Tim Cook’s ‘level 5 leadership’ might not be enough to secure Apple’s future

“In 1996, when Jim Collins began the research that led to the book Good to Great, the aim was to identify characteristics that led average companies become outperformers,” Greg Satell writes for Forbes. “Many of the results were surprising, but perhaps none more so that his description of what he called the Level 5 leaders, executives who, among other things, act with ‘quiet, calm determination’ and rely ‘principally on inspired standards — not an inspiring personality — to motivate.'”

“In other words, someone very unlike Steve Jobs with his famous ‘reality distortion field.’ Collins saw that ‘celebrity CEO’s’ are often not effective executives and that those who blended personal humility with intense will outperformed their spotlight-loving brethren,” Satell writes. “I’ve often thought of Tim Cook as a Level 5 leader. While Steve Jobs was a visionary of historic proportions, Apple is much more than a vision driven company, it is an operational wunderkind, excelling in cost leadership, quality and service.”

“Tim Cook is a first rate operational executive whose skill and determination played a major role in making Apple one of the greatest companies in history,” Satell writes. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t answer the question of whether Tim Cook can lead Apple into the future.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in February:

“Those who underestimate Tim Cook do so at their own peril.”


  1. He is correct that Mr. Cook can only carry the company to a point-Like any person. The part that is neglected is the products that he ultimately approves. That is and will be the defining element that will take Apple into the future. Not even Steve Jobs could be Steve with the RDF without outstanding products.

  2. I wish I could get a job writing this shit. And MDN can’t find anything more news-worthy to re-post on this site? Tim Cook is great, but is he great enough? Don’t know. Hmmm. Thought provoking commentary.

    1. Our pal, anonymous coward ‘the joker’ has no truth to tell. Apparently he is just another standard berzerker [my spelling] whose entire point is to make cacophonous noise. As such, he is entirely ignorable. zzzzzz

  3. Hey, MDN… there’s still no reason for anyone to underestimate Tim Cook. All by himself he is setting a new low for the once great company. WWDC should be, at the very least, the beginning of the end of his time with Apple Inc. When the show closes and all we have got is some over hyped tweaking, flatness, and promises of great new products in the pipeline, that should set into motion a serious consideration for new leadership. If AAPL then falls into the $200 range, I predict barbarians at the gate and all hell will break loose ultimately rendering the company into a hopeless fall among the ranks of all the other ordinary tech companies out there.

  4. Serious question for all you “FIRE COOK!” guys. Fire him and replace him with… who? Schiller? Cue? Federighi? Oppenheimer? Who is the inspirational leader waiting in the wings to lift Apple? Just curious.

    1. even though Tim would be fired, there is no alternative way to run the company like Steve. do you think that Johnny Ive could do it? NO. he has no idea on business management at all. so apple has been under big loss since Steve. apple is Steve, the company is Steve. period. it is inevitable that apple future won’t be bright anymore.

  5. “One of the major factors that led to Apples stellar results over the past decade was Steve Jobs’ vision of the personal computer as a hub for post-PC devices. This led to the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Each successive product helped fill out the vision.”

    Oops: Author just went all hyperbolic on us. Apple didn’t have a vision that led to the iPod. The iPod was serendipitous. Because of it a new vision began to grow. The author’s cause and effect are backwards.

    “Apple desperately needs a new vision as the value in the industry shifts from hardware back to software. The breakthrough products in next digital paradigm will be artificial intelligence services delivered through the cloud. ”

    You can take that to the bank, folks, because the author describes himself as “I write about the intersection of media, marketing and technology” Yup: Solid journalistic credentials for critiquing the industry Apple plays in, and often disrupts beyond this fellow’s ability to predict.

    But hey: It was a Tuesday and the fellow had to file some sort of story.

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