In 2009, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs stepped down unexpectedly – for the first time.
Now, Tim Cook, Apple's new chief executive, is in the same place as he was before, being asked to lead a company that's associated, in many minds, with Jobs himself.
In 2009, I asked Marshall Goldsmith, the author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, and 23 other books, and a columnist for the Harvard Business Publishing Web site what he thought Cook should do. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Let's talk about Tim Cook. What sort of problems does he face, taking over for an iconic CEO like Jobs?
Big problems. Its not any fault of his. His problems are not that something's wrong with him. His problems are that he's replacing an icon. I was at UCLA when John Wooden was the basketball coach. The next coach was Gene Bartow, who got fired for winning 90 percent plus of his games. He wasn't John Wooden. It's incredibly difficult to replace someone who has seen as an icon.
The only thing I don't think people don't understand about good leaders is that they're both good and lucky. A lot of it is timing. If Jack Welch was still the CEO of General Electric, he wouldn't nearly be the icon he is today. The timing was good. General Electric's stock would have tanked whether he left or if he had stayed. But he happened to leave at the right time and so he came off as an iconic, do no wrong figure. But he was lucky. I'm sure he was a great CEO, but the thing is you can be a great CEO and the corporate results can tank.
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