It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to take over as CEO of Apple from its iconic founder, Steve Jobs. Obviously, in hindsight, Tim Cook has done just fine. When he took over in 2011, Apple was worth around $340 billion. Today, it’s the most valuable company on earth, with a market cap over $2.4 trillion.
Obviously, Cook and Jobs are very different people and very different types of leaders. Jobs was one of the most iconic entrepreneurs ever to start a business. He’s known as the creative force behind the iMac, the iPod, the MacBook Air, and the iPhone. Each of those are products that defined their respective categories.
Cook, on the other hand, is known as an operations guru who grew Apple through his ability to streamline its supply chain and squeeze massive profits out of every device the company sells. It’s a strategy that has worked, even if it looks very different than that of his predecessor.
However, there is one thing the two leaders have in common. Or, more specifically, there is one habit Cook has maintained all this time that he learned from Jobs. Every Monday morning at 9:00 a.m., Cook meets with the top executives at Apple–something Jobs started.
“In many ways, it’s still run the way Steve set it up,” Cook told Kara Swisher at the Code Conference earlier this month.
I think there are actually two lessons here. The first is that if you lead a team, it’s your job to build a structure that sets your team up for success. Getting everyone in a room to go through the business is a good place to start.
Here’s how Jobs explained it in a 2008 interview with Fortune magazine:
“I want them making as good or better decisions than I would. So the way to do that is to have them know everything, not just in their part of the business, but in every part of the business.
So what we do every Monday is we review the whole business. We look at what we sold the week before. We look at every single product under development, products we’re having trouble with, products where the demand is larger than we can make. All the stuff in development, we review. And we do it every single week. I put out an agenda — 80% is the same as it was the last week, and we just walk down it every single week.
We don’t have a lot of process at Apple, but that’s one of the few things we do just to all stay on the same page.”
Apple is a much larger company than it was when Jobs started getting his top leaders in a room on Monday mornings. That means it’s even more important to do whatever it takes to stay on the same page. In a 2015 interview with 60 Minutes, Cook told Charlie Rose that one of the reasons he continues the meeting is because of what he learned from Jobs.
“This is Steve’s company. This is still Steve’s company,” Cook said. “It was born that way, it’s still that way. His spirit will always be in the DNA of this company.”
This leads to the other lesson, which is to have the attitude of a learner. When you’re in charge–whether that’s as a manager, or especially if you become CEO–it’s easy to think that just because you make the decisions, you must be right. Sure, if you’re the boss, there’s a good chance people will do what you ask, but it doesn’t mean you have it all figured out.
Obviously Cook had already spent years learning from Jobs before he took over. He learned the things that mattered, and the things that made Apple, Apple. Not everyone is given the job of following after such an outsized personality as Steve Jobs, but there is still someone you can learn from.
“Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do. ‘Just do what’s right,'” Cook said at a memorial service when Jobs died. Investing in your team, making sure they’re all on the same page, and giving them a chance to help you make decisions is always the right thing to do.