Apple CEO Tim Cook made headlines this week when he publicly apologized to customers in China for complaints over its customer service policies. What’s more, that apology was accompanied by very real changes to improve those policies. This is actually the second public apology he’s made on behalf of Apple in as many years, since taking over from Steve Jobs.
So a familiar conversation is taking place, one that occurs whenever a business leader is seen “doing the right thing” or making a sincere apology, which is to ask whether he is too nice for his company’s own good.
What good CEOs understand is that leadership isn’t about being nice or tough, it’s about relating to and influencing people. If a leader’s goal is to be nice, he may have to compromise his integrity and decision-making ability in the process of appeasing everyone. Obviously, he’s not going to be effective.
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