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Leadership Style Differences Between Apple and Microsoft – Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Most Apple watchers and investors would be moaning and groaning about the fact that Apple is no more innovating as it used to be few years ago. Investors would love to think of the good old days when the company’s profits would expand insanely from one quarter to another. Their products used to be significantly different from that of rival companies.

As noted by Digital Trends, Apple is definitely losing its way after the glorious days of Steve Jobs. Several reports would show that Apple has changed drastically under CEO, Tim Cook. Apple’s business models have changed and along with it is its culture.

What separates the two CEOs?

Jobs was known for his temperament - as one who cared only about the products. The team and the company existed only to facilitate the goals. He was more of a creator who had a vision. Not to say, Tim is not capable enough. Tim is more of a leader who cared for the all-round aspects of the company. He is more of an administrator than an innovator.

Jobs had a strong character and would dismiss employees and ideas he does not agree with. He would turn many projects down and focus on just few. Senior managers would sometimes find themselves pitted against each other.

On the other hand, Cook replicates consensus, giving an eye to more potential projects. He is more of a slow and steady decision maker. Unlike Steve, Cook does not believe that if a product does not attract him enough, it cannot attract other people too. He lets the experts do their jobs.

On the Flip Side….

Even though companies prosper differently under different leaders, there are other vital points one has to keep in mind. Apple is no more the underdog coming from the burial. Today the company enjoys the largest market capitalization in the globe. Hence, it would be difficult to see big leaps in sales or profits on a regular basis.

One cannot produce blockbuster hit products often. Critics who blame the lack of innovation forget that the first iPod was announced in 2001 and the first iPhone in 2007. That does not mean Apple has done nothing innovative in the six years. Innovation takes time.

As you would have realised by now, cultural changes also happen with time. The challenges, expectations and pressure faced by the two CEOs are never the same.  

Apple’s rival has a similar tale  

Apple is not the only company that’s changing approach. Microsoft has struggled for years under Steve Ballmer, its CEO. Its mobile phones made slow debut in the market and were not popular either. The company’s business hugely depended on its fire products - Office and Windows.

Eventually several new strategies were brought about by Ballmer, making crucial impacts. But Microsoft decided to replace Ballmer and chose Satya Nadella. The new-look company now focused more on cloud-based services. More flexibility was brought in as customers could access Office 365 capable of running on Android and iOS. Microsoft’s long time idea of Windows-centric world was pushed aside.

So what’s the point?

New conditions demand new business culture which can be introduced by new leadership. Any company would succeed long only if it can adapt to new demands and conditions. Today’s entrepreneurs must learn to become new-age leaders. The foremost characteristic of a new-age leader is to adapt to new conditions. This adaption also means being open to changes.   

It can be emotionally difficult to bring in drastic changes but you must think of how hard it is to see your company marginalised.

That’s why it is important to learn your lessons from the heavy weights – Apple and Microsoft.   


Image Sourced : Lessons from Apple and Microsoft

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