Not political. Collaborators. People who really don’t care who gets credit. Those are the type of people that Apple looks for in new employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said recently.
In other words, if Steve Jobs was applying for a job at Apple today, he’d probably get shown the door double-quick-time.
Cook was speaking at the 25th reunion of his class at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He was asked about collaboration — and the types of people that Apple wants to hire.
Here’s the full video:
There are certainly a few qualities that Jobs’ and Cook’s wish list would match up on today, with intelligence at the top of the list. Another is what Cook put as Apple’s specialty: the magic of merging hardware, software, and services into one compelling product strategy.
“You look for wicked-smart people,” Cook said. “People that care enough that they have an idea at 11 at night and they want to call and talk to you about because they’re so excited and they want to push the idea further.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Cook also said that he never met anyone so incredible that they can do something by themselves in a global enterprise. Which means that Apple employees need to collaborate, work together, and share the credit without taking the spotlight. Jobs, of course, was known for co-opting others’ ideas and claiming them as his own — part of his all-encompassing reality distortion field.
Cook’s philosophy, I suppose, is also one of the reasons that Jobs’ favorite Scott Forstall, who refused to apologize for the Apple Maps fiasco, was fired. Forstall was known for being — shall we say — difficult.
“You look for people that are not political … people that don’t really care who gets credit,” Cook said.
There’s no question that Cook himself fits the bill. He’s shared the stage willingly with other Apple executives at company events, and he’s humble almost to a fault. In his recent 81-minute interview at AllThingsD, Cook was calm, reserved, collected … not exciting, passionate, or amazing. For which, unsurprisingly, he’s taken a significant amount of flack.
You want people who can privately celebrate an achievement, Cook said, without having to see their name in lights. That doesn’t sound like Jobs.
The question is whether Apple needs those kinds of hands at the helm — and in the engine room — right now. A little more driving type-A break-eggs-to-make-omelettes employees might not do the company too much harm in the long run. It’s certainly the kind of passion and character that its founder and spiritual leader Jobs brought to the company.
And given that over time followers become leaders and employees become managers, directors, and CEOs, Apple might want to consider if it is shutting out the very type of employee it needs most right now.