In the business world most executives pay minimal attention to succession planning. When they do attend to matters of succession they only pay token amounts of lip service because of the impact it has on the perceptions of the company’s future.
Truth is, few CEO’s want to think about life after themselves. As a result, succession planning typically gets short shrift in far too many organizations. For instance, how many Boards of Directors do you think could honestly answer the question: “Who takes over if our CEO gets hit by a bus tomorrow?”
Granted, a series of unfortunate events have led to Tim Cook’s third audition for the CEO spot, but he has quietly ended all the hand wringing, panic, and speculation that accompanied Steve Jobs first medical leave of absence. Now as Jobs, the heart & soul of Apple, convalesces the company rolls on under Cook.
Cook has demonstrated that he possesses key C’s of effective leadership: credibility, competence, consistency, composure, and clarity. In Apple’s case continuity is also crucial considering the deep pipeline of new products they are destined to spring on its insatiable consumers.
Remarkably – Cook is able to shine even while standing in the long, long shadow of Jobs.
But, give credit where it’s due. Despite his reputation as narcissistic and freakishly controlling, Cook’s success is in large measure because Jobs has laid a solid foundation, delegating and putting Cook in a position where he could succeed.
Many executives talk the talk about bench strength and succession planning but we are witnessing one of the great acts of leadership development in the business world today. Jobs is not only the mastermind behind the products who has positioned Apple to thrive for years to come – witness the iCloud – but he’s also groomed a legitimate successor.
Take nothing away from Cook. He’s a gamer. He spent the last decade-plus streamlining Apple’s operations. Now he has the added pressure that comes with being in the outward facing role of CEO.
That’s a completely different skill set, but he’s crushing it. Day after day Cook is inspiring more confidence in his abilities and demonstrating why Jobs has so much faith in him.
Still, kudos to Jobs, the man who even through the actions of others continues to burnish his image as one of the greatest CEO’s of all time.