Never has a single man had a greater impact on a tech company than Steve Jobs. Many would say that his influence stretches well beyond Apple, Disney, and his other contributions, that his style and leadership abilities have impacted hundreds, even thousands of successful companies and millions of individuals.
The world will watch every move that Apple makes in the coming months, just as it always has, but now they will be scrutinizing the moves and wondering WWSJD (what would Steve Jobs do)? This has been coming for a while ever since Jobs and his team became acutely aware that his illness would eventually force the change to come sooner than they would have liked, but now that it’s here, Cook has to answer the call.
Apple is at the peak of its existence. Today, it is more powerful and influential than it has ever been. Any drop in prestige, power, or profits will shine poorly on Cook. Success, on the other hand, will be heralded as Steve Jobs’ vision being carried out by his minions. Cook is in an odd situation.
How will he handle it? The months and years will tell. Luckily for him, he gets to start out on top and with everything already rolling in the right direction. It will take some majorly bad decisions to hurt the company and stifle success. There’s a ton of pressure on his shoulders. Do people expect him to be Steve Jobs?
Unfortunately, yes. It isn’t that they expect to have the same charisma or attention to detail that helped drive the company to the top. They will expect him to be an extension of Jobs, a “visionary’s assistant” who has to keep the light shining bright and the vision intact.
The shoes are going to be tough to fill. Just as Lebron James and Kobe Bryant have fallen short of being as good as Michael Jordan, Tim Cook will likely fall short of being as good as Steve Jobs. He can make all of the right moves, deliver inspirational speeches, release ground-breaking products, and still fall short of a man whose legend will only grow now that he’s out of day-to-day affairs completely. It’s an impossible task, but one that has benefits.
If he can keep his job for 10 years, he’ll be fully vested with the 1 million more shares of the company that they recently gave to him. Nobody has worked as closely with Jobs over the last few years. Nobody knows the vision better other than Jobs himself. Will he be able to fill the shoes?