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5 Tim Cook Quotes on Leadership and the Future of Apple

By Chris Neiger – Sep 8, 2016 at 10:01AM

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Five years into Cook's leadership at Apple, we look at five quotes on how he approaches leadership and where he thinks Apple's future is headed.

Image source: Apple.

Tim Cook has only been at Apple's (AAPL -0.34%) helm for five years, but during that time, he's offered some snippets of advice on leadership and Apple's future. We can probably all glean something from his thoughts, considering they're coming from the CEO of the most valuable company in the world.

Here are just a few Tim Cook quotes you shouldn't miss.

Cook's insights on leadership

Cook built his Apple career on managing the company's sales and operations, positions that are knee-deep in cold, hard numbers. But when it comes to life and leading, Cook says intuition is the most important thing to consider. Cook addressed his alma mater in 2010, telling Auburn University graduates:

But there are times in our lives when the careful consideration of cost and benefits just doesn't seem like the right way to make a decision. There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate -- when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I've discovered it's in facing life's most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right.

Cook's shared his style of leadership with Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 2013, when he said he looks to bring people around him that can analyze different view points and who are constantly excited about their work.

He said in an interview at the school:

You look for wicked smart people. You look for people who appreciate different points of view. People who care enough that they have an idea at 11 at night and they want to call and talk to you about it. Because they're so excited about it, they want to push the idea further. And that they believe that somebody can help them push the idea another step instead of them doing everything themselves.

Cook's thoughts on Apple's future 

Of course, Apple's CEO has his own ideas about where technology is going and how his company will benefit. Speaking about smartphones and their evolution into artificially intelligent devices, Cook told The Washington Post recently that, 

Look at the core technologies that make up the smartphone today and look at the ones that will be dominant in smartphones of the future -- like AI. AI will make this product even more essential to you. It will become even a better assistant than it is today. So where you probably aren't leaving home without it today -- you're really going to be connected to it in the future.

That may be good news for the future of Apple, which is so closely tied to its iPhones sales. The company's smartphone sales have been slipping lately, but Cook has stuck to a long-standing Apple philosophy of not focusing on the numbers.

Speaking to Fast Company last year, Cook said:

There's this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most. How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Everybody in technology seems to want big numbers. Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best.

This approach has left some investors nervous at times when it appears Apple isn't doing enough to boost sales or introduce new products. But Cook has remained resilient in his approach to Apple's future device iterations. 

Cook said in that same interview: 

We weren't first on the MP3 player; we weren't first on the tablet; we weren't first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch -- the first one that matters.

Cook's comments, at least for smartwatches, have proved true so far. The Apple Watch is currently the best-stelling smartwatch on the market by far.

With many years likely ahead for Apple's current CEO, we can expect to glean much more advice from Cook's quotes in the future. But his thoughts are already shedding some light on how Cook approaches leadership, and how he'll continue to run Apple. 

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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