The week of August 18, was when Apple touched $2 trillion in market Valuation. Who would have believed this achievement – not even Steve Jobs? Where have 7 years gone since Steve stepped away from Apple, due to not being able to fulfill his duties. Many thought this was the end of Apple. He died six weeks later of pancreatic cancer. They were wrong, and he was my favorite manager, because we shared a common thread – the management and value of people. If Steve were here I am sure that he wouldn’t change his management style, but at the same time he would improve his style of management of people in those areas that didn’t work out so good the first time. As I look back, here a few things Steve did in trying to improve his management style.

  1. He had developed a successor, Tim Cooke, and prepared him to step into the CEO role. Tim Cooke served a long time in his role as a successor candidate to Steve. I know what it is to be groomed to succeed a CEO. I paid the price, in terms of two relocations and the constant challenges of a new job (8 in 11years), all in the fact of being a successor and the need to have experience in the various areas of the development plan. Since I didn’t know I was being groomed to take-over, as I learned about this fact many years later from my mentor. If I had known I was a candidate for CEO of Cheshire, I would have been more likely to not spend 11 years with a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation that was doomed to be closed due to technological obsolescence. You might question my judgement, but I was really having fun and the years went-by fast as I was sent out to develop 43% of the U.S. in the first field assignment (DALLAS), with finally getting the North-East region and having a Cheshire office on 5th Avenue in New York City.

Tim Cook had been working for Steve and Apple for years, as head of an Engineering Division.

Management Lesson:

Who is your successor? Have you designated that person – don’t let him/her get involved in playing the role without knowing what you have in mind or what/why the existing and future jobs are experience that your successor would need. If you can afford it, appoint two or three persons to this role. For sure, you will experience attrition.  Your successor has to be trained in doing key jobs, and should receive on-going mentoring from you. Let him/her run the company when you or the CEO go on vacation.  Learn to delegate – I often asked myself about negotiating the Union Contract twice. Tim Cooke is no Steve, for he has his own style. However, he is taking Apple to heights in market valuation that most thought impossible with Steve.

  1. Steve never settled when hiring – he was constantly looking for a rock star.  He consistently raised his recruiting bar, hiring as much for DNA, as for skills & competitiveness. When an employee didn’t live up-to Apple’s DNA on a consistent basis, he invited them to pursue their career elsewhere.

Management Lesson:

Who on Your team shouldn’t be there? How long has it been since you reviewed your recruiting bar?

  1. Steve believed in keeping it simple, and according to his rules of KISS.  He simplified every product, every product line, every feature, and every marketing message.  Everything was boiled      to its essence, and never further.  Employees were painfully clear on priorities, timeliness, and implication of failure.

Management Lesson:

What in your business process is too complicated?

  1. Steve didn’t lead his managers, such as Steve Cooke, to take share from competitors. He led them to leapfrog everybody, and to reinvent the category as is evident in desk top computers, music, phones and you name it.

Management Lesson:

Are you thinking to small?

  1. Steve paid well in both cash and equity. The people who worked for him were immensely and stayed with Apple above industry averages.

Management Lesson:

Identify who is underpaid, and at risk?  Do you enjoy the trust that Steve had from his reports? I saw Steve at a trade show when we were going into desk-top computers. Yours truly headed up the newly formed Computer Division, a clear mismatch of DNA’S and people. Yes, I was the successful Marketing Manager at GBC, but I had zero experience with Computers and my understanding of computers was limited at best.

  1. The reason Tim Cooke will continue to be successful in leading Apple to new heights – Tim has made Apple his own. How many managers have done that in your business?

I miss Steve Jobs, because he contributed to many of my principles that I use in recruiting and leadership. His KISS approach to leadership has served me well.