Clearly he doesn't think Tim Cook is that person

Microsoft's former chief operating officer believes that Apple may be losing its way because it no longer has the visionary leadership it once possessed with former CEO Steve Jobs

Ex-Microsoft COO Bob Herbold contributed an article to Forbes on how Apple's stock is a clear sign that the company lacks a few core characteristics that once made it great. 

"The stock wizards have been absolutely baffled by Apple’s drop from its lofty peak of $700 a share," said Herbold. "In fact, on the day the Dow passed its 2007 high and Apple continued its free fall, stock analysts were still positive on buying Apple. Of the analysts who follow Apple, 29 were 'strong buys,' four were 'buys', and six recommended a hold."

According to Herbold, Apple needs a visionary leader to rise from the shadow of its former self, and this visionary leader needs to possess three traits: deep personal involvement in the company and its products, the guts to lead successfully and true leadership skills (not simply administration skills).

Herbold said a true visionary leader is confident, has nerves of steel, understands the customer (and worries day and night over whether the customer is receiving what they need with the company's products) and becomes nearly obsessively involved in the company's projects. 

"Steve Jobs personally led the conceptualization and development of the easy-to-use leading-edge products that enabled him to be so massively successful," said Herbold.

Apparently Herbold doesn't see Apple's current CEO Tim Cook as the right man for the job. Cook became Apple CEO in August 2011 after Jobs stepped down due to health problems. Jobs died nearly two months later from pancreatic cancer. 

Apple's stock hit a high of $700 last September, but has now dropped to the $450 mark (it hit a 52-week low of $419 on March 4, 2013). 

"Apple could surprise us in the next six to nine months by emerging with yet another big new idea," said Herbold. "On the other hand, I think the stock market is telling us that the public is beginning to believe that Apple really doesn’t have strong visionary leadership. Apple will be a solid technology company but the Apple era may be on its way out."

Apple does have a few tricks up its sleeve, such as an upcoming smart watch that could be released as soon as this year. Hopefully this will help Apple out, but other companies like Google are right in its face to keep the competition sharp. For instance, Google Glass (augmented-reality glasses) are now being released to early adopters for $1,500 and Samsung is in the process of making a smart watch as well. 

It's kind of ironic that this advice is coming from a former Microsoft employee, considering Microsoft could use some help itself. The company released Windows 8 last year and had plenty of complaints about the new user interface. Sales have been dismal and its first homemade tablet -- the Surface -- has largely been a bust. The company has been working hard to defend its latest products (not to mention its own leader -- Steve Ballmer -- is a pretty scary individual).

Source: Forbes

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