The Ethics Guy Newsletter
June 26, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook Does This Every Day And So Should You
By Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
CEO, The Institute for High-Character LeadershipOne character trait that distinguishes Apple CEO Tim Cook from other corporate leaders is his high level of accountability.

Accountable leaders do four things consistently:

1. They keep their promises

2. They consider the consequences of their actions

3. They take responsibility for their mistakes

4. They make amends for those mistakes

Let’s take a look at promise keeping and why it is an essential component of Apple’s financial success.

Accountable Leaders Keep Their Promises

Every year the Gallup Organization releases the results of its survey on honesty and ethical standards in the professions. Business executives are always rated among the least honest and ethical. Why is that? I submit that too often CEOs fail to remember that, as Walter Landor said, a brand is a promise. Forgetting this risks losing market capitalization, brand reputation, and above all, trustworthiness.

What exactly is the promise brands make?  Whatever the product (coffee, smartphones, cars) — or service (investing, consulting, construction), the promise is the same: “You can count on us to deliver what we say we’ll deliver. And if we don’t, we will make it right.”

Apple is wildly successful, and it isn’t only because they make cool gadgets. You wouldn’t be anxious to get the next iPhone if the one you have now works only now and then and you can’t find anyone at the company to help you. Tim Cook knows that the Apple logo represents a promise to consumers, and he takes that promise seriously. This is a major reason why, as Forbes notes, Apple “has the world’s largest market capitalization (more than $610 billion as of December 2016) and the most profitable business in America.”

Over the eight years or so that I’ve been a loyal Apple customer, I’ve had problems from time to time with my iMac, MacBook Pro, or iPhone. Every time I’ve called customer service or gone to a Genius Bar, I receive friendly help that solves the problem. If you own an Apple product, I’ll bet you’ve had the same experience.

Accountability is cool — and profitable.

This essay originally appeared on To read my other ethics columns for Forbes and to receive new ones as soon as they’re published, please click here, then click “Follow” next to my photo.


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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
The Ethics Guy®
CEO, The Institute for High-Character Leadership™
Author, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees

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