What’s more important, leadership or execution?

Apple just announced it’s profits for the last quarter and they are higher than any other company has ever reported. Higher than the largest international banks. Higher than the most successful oil and gas companies. Higher than most country’s GDP.

When Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook took over, most thought that Apple was doomed. How would they fare without their charismatic leader? Well, I’d say they are doing just fine. Cook doesn’t have the flair for the dramatic that Jobs has. He doesn’t have the angry episodes that used to drive employees crazy. But what he does have is a fierce ability to get things done.

When you look at some of the most successful companies right now, or ones that have been turned around, it’s because the leader has an intense focus on execution. On getting the important things done and done well. On ensuring that employees know their role in achieving the best result. On measuring success in a disciplined way. On deliberately focusing on the organization’s strengths.

Is it possible that the best decision Steve Jobs ever made was hiring Tim Cook?

Bringing back the old boss

I always find it interesting when an organization brings back an old boss to help make the company successful again. What are the reasons behind it? Was the old boss that good or was the new boss that bad? Was it a failure in succession planning or a bad hiring? It could be all of the above. Here are some examples of companies bringing back old bosses:

  • Proctor & Gamble bringing back A.G. Lafley
  • Apple bringing back Steve Jobs
  • Dell Computers bringing back Michael Dell
  • InfoSys bringing back Narayana Murthy

In all cases (except InfoSys because Murthy was just brought back), the companies performed better when the old bosses came back. It makes you wonder why they left (or were asked to leave) in the first place. Maybe a classic case of “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”