Steve Jobs’ leadership “trick”

What Apple CEO Tim Cook learned from his former boss

Welcome to For Leaders, your go-to source for essential leadership insights and perspectives shaping today's world.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Strategic Summaries: Key insights and takeaways on the importance of fostering creativity in leadership

  • The For Leaders Podcast: CallRevu CEO Ben Chodor

  • Words of Wisdom: A powerful leadership quote to inspire

  • Leaders’ Library: What we’re reading this week

  • Why Tho? essay: The only question worth asking

A curated community of leaders.

Strategic Summaries

A weekly roundup of the most interesting, useful and thought-provoking articles to help you be a better leader. This week we’re focusing on fostering creativity.

A culture of creativity. Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about Steve Jobs’ leadership “trick.” 

Our take: Tim Cook admires the leadership tone Steve Jobs set for Apple, calling him a “a once-in-a-hundred-years kind of individual, an original by any stretch of the imagination.”

One of the “tricks” Cook learned was Jobs’ expectation that all employees were held to the same high standard of creativity. It didn’t matter whether they worked in engineering, marketing or any other department, the expectation was the same.

Jobs’ insistence on this created a culture of creativity that served him well during his reign and continues today. 

By continuing this leadership approach, Cook was able to “win over naysayers after he became CEO” – maintaining a creative culture allowed him to lean on innovation rather than the product expertise he didn’t have.    

Key takeaway: When a leader is able to foster a culture of creativity, they can adapt through changing situations, even if they don’t have the exact expertise to draw on. 


Churn Baby, Churn. Guy Kawasaki talks about his top 10 tips on how to cultivate innovation in business.

Our take: Number eight in Kawasaki’s top 10 is called Churn Baby, Churn. This is a state of creativity where creators take their idea and churn it out into version one, then 1.1, 1.2, 2.0. 

There’s a kind of denial that’s helpful when others say that something (your product, idea, service or entire business) can’t be done, but you continue pushing anyway. 

Each new version requires new ideas to keep evolving, a bubble of imagination that propels your vision forward. 

Key takeaway: Creativity is one of the best ways to get past blocks, obstacles and win over those who don’t believe in you. Prioritizing it and protecting space for it allows you to keep churning out ideas. 


Don’t fly solo. Hal Gregersen interviewed over a hundred innovators for Forbes and found patterns to how they behaved.  

Our take: Gregersen found that these innovators were all doing four things: constantly asking provocative questions to challenge the status quo, observing the world like anthropologists, talking to people who are not like them, and being willing to try anything (and experiment, if needed).

When CEOs have this approach, they can’t fly solo. Usually when an individual has this creative mindset, they’re not good at executing their vision. They need to build a team around them who can take their ideas and make them into reality.   

Key takeaway: If you’re a highly creative leader, the above four strategies can be helpful to develop. But don’t forget to have people on your team who can translate your ideas into something tangible.  


🎧 For Leaders: CallRevu CEO Ben Chodor

Ben Chodor has been able to establish a new culture at CallRevu. 

His focus has been on communication – maintaining consistency – breaking down silos, and sharing ideas without fear, leading to empowered and cohesive employees.

In this episode, Ben shares key insights on:

  • How advanced AI technologies can be used as a tool, rather than a threat jobs

  • The power of the human element in customer relationships

  • The importance of being accessible as a leader and guiding his employees

Words of Wisdom

One weekly, impactful quote for leaders.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

– Alvin Toffler

Leaders' Library

Every week, we share an interesting long-form piece of content to contemplate.

Today, we’re reading the essay, Trying to Innovate? Put down your hammer by Rachel Audige.

The key to creativity is being able to connect dots that aren’t explicitly there, have ideas that are new and fresh, and adapt to situations without falling back on the same solutions.

In leadership, this diversity of thought is essential in yourself and also to foster in the work environment. Creativity flourishes when multiple viewpoints entwine to create something new. 

In this essay, Audige talks about the go-to tools and processes we use and why it’s helpful (in one of her examples, life-saving) to understand why we’re using them and how to discard the ones that aren’t of service.

One of her suggestions is to learn to unlearn. Put down the tools you know and get curious about other ways you can solve problems. This requires a beginner’s mindset; humility that you don’t, in fact, know what’s best; and a spirit of openness.

This is where true creativity lies.     

Our featured essay this week is, The only question worth asking by Clint Betts.

Many leaders engage in solving their most immediate problems without considering the consequences. But in order to confront humanity’s most pressing issues, we need more careful thought and intention.

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week with more powerful leadership insights and inspiration.

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