Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook cuts a low profile, and so some people are asking whether he can be as tough as Steve Jobs in crucial negotiations. As our friend Dan Frommer asks at SplatF: “Is Tim Cook mean enough?”
He quotes Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, who had to deal with Steve Jobs over media rights, as saying that Jobs’ directness was an asset in negotiations.
First of all, it’s easy to note that the negotiations Tim Cook had with suppliers probably weren’t any easier than Jobs’ negotiations with media partners.
- “His southern accent and ‘courtly demeanor’ can disarm subordinates, and Cook never raises his voice, but his default frown and long, uncomfortable silent stares hint at the demanding leader underneath. … ‘I’ve seen him shred people,’ a former colleague told Fortune … ‘He asks you the questions he knows you can’t answer, and he keeps going and going. It isn’t funny, and it’s not fun.’ ” That makes him sound almost like Bill Gates, who was famous for dressing down colleagues through very pointed questioning.
- “Cook once dispatched an underling straight from a meeting at Apple headquarters in Cupertino to the airport bound for China, without time even to pack a change of clothes or figure out a return date. ‘Why are you still here?’ was Cook’s goodbye, delivered in the middle of the meeting.”
There are plenty of Jobsian attributes that Cook may or may not have, but it doesn’t seem that toughness is on the list.
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