Tim Cook’s most important presentation rule is simple: less Tim Cook

Tim Cook is the CEO of the most valuable company in the world. That company – Apple – became so valuable, largely because of one thing: the iPhone. On Wednesday, Apple introduced the latest iPhone, and one of the jobs of the CEO of the company that makes the iPhone is for you to take the stage and talk about all the great new features and reasons why someone should buy one.

Except, if you’re one of the millions who watched the iPhone Apple Event on Wednesday, you may have noticed something interesting — it’s not Cook who talks the most. Cook presented less than 10 minutes of the 93-minute presentation. In his place were 13 other people, more than half of them women.

Cook’s job is basically as a sort of presenter connecting the whole presentation together. He doesn’t really mean much. Instead, he talks broadly about how great everything is, then passes it on to a product manager or executive to talk about the products.

That’s quite different from his predecessor, Steve Jobs, who was once one of the most gifted presenters. It was Jobs who took the stage at Macworld and called Starbucks a joke as he introduced the world to what would become the most popular product in history. It was Jobs who, a year later, extracted the “thinnest notebook in the world” from an envelope from Manila.

While Jobs was Apple’s CEO, he was the presenter-in-chief. Cook appears to see his role differently, and that’s a good thing. Here are three reasons why less Tim Cook is so important to Apple and why every company should pay attention:

1. Trust your team

Even though he is clearly the public face of Apple, Cook fulfills that role differently from Jobs. People don’t associate Cook with the design and feel of products as they did with Apple’s iconic founder. In fact, the biggest criticism of Cook is that he is “not a product guy”.

In many ways, however, that’s a good thing. It certainly hasn’t slowed down Apple. Cook has surrounded himself with very capable people who can tell the story of the products Apple makes in a way he couldn’t — at least not as authentically. The fact that he is willing to hand over so much podium time to his team shows that he trusts them to tell that story.

2. Build the sofa

Another role of any CEO is to take people to the next level and give them opportunities to excel. There are few greater opportunities than presenting at one of Apple’s keynotes, by far the largest tech product events. It’s not even close.

Every time you give someone the opportunity to do something great, you’re building them, meaning you’re helping shape the future of your business. Giving people the opportunity to stand up and talk about the things they are responsible for gives them ownership and responsibility. It also helps make Apple more than just its leader, something that matters when you consider that Cook recently said he doesn’t expect to be CEO ten years from now.

3. Share the spotlight

Finally, sharing the spotlight — or, in this case, the stage — is one of the most powerful tools you have as a leader. The best part is that while it will cost you next to nothing, the return on that investment is incredible. The iPhone event, in particular, is the most talked-about product announcement of every year. At the time of writing, more than 23 million people have watched Wednesday’s keynote on YouTube.

Cook doesn’t need the spotlight to have an audience. He’s the CEO of the world’s largest company – when he comes on stage, people will listen. By shining the light on his team, he extends that spotlight to them and lets them share in the celebration of what the company has made.

I watched Cook walk through the press practice room after the event. Every time he approached an Apple employee presenting at the keynote, he certainly congratulated them.

Many leaders are afraid to share the spotlight because they are either afraid of losing relevance or being overshadowed themselves. I can’t think of a better example of a fatal leadership mistake than that. On the other hand, Cook seems willing to share it as much as possible, and it’s the best presentation line of all.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.

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