Next week marks the five-year anniversary of Tim Cook becoming Apple's CEO. After succeeding late co-founder Steve Jobs, the 55-year-old executive admits that the path so far has not been easy.

"It's sort of a lonely job," Cook said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post. "The adage that it's lonely--the CEO job is lonely--is accurate in a lot of ways."

Over the past few years, Cook has extended Jobs' legacy in more ways than one. Apple, which brought in some $230 billion in revenue in 2015, is ranked as the most valuable and most profitable company in the S&P 500 Index. Under his tenure, the tech giant has surpassed 1 billion in sales of its iPhone, grown its product lineup significantly, and made a massive expansion into China, where it now has a total of 41 retails stores--up from just four in 2011.

Here's a look at Cooke's leadership style, and how he copes with failure and loneliness:

On being a 'non-traditional' CEO:

"I think of a traditional CEO as being divorced from customers," he said, adding that some CEOs put too much emphasis on his or her job being about profit and loss, revenue statements, income and expenses, and balance sheets.

While he agrees that all these factors are important, he still believes there's a bigger responsibility to the communities, the employees, the countries where Apple operates, and, as Cook puts it, "to the whole ecosystem of the company. If you care about long-term shareholder return, all of these other things are really critical."

On handling that criticism

"[As the CEO,] you're both praised and criticized, and the extremes are wide -- very wide," said Cook. "And that can happen all in a day. You build up -- my skin got materially thicker after August 2011 [when I succeeded Jobs]."

On soliciting advice from peers

Cook, who famously came out as gay in Bloomberg column in 2014, reached out to journalist Anderson Cooper for advice prior to the announcement.

"I thought that the way he handled his announcement [of being gay] was really classy," Cook said. "It's incumbent on a CEO not to just listen to points of view but to actually solicit them."

On coping with loneliness at the top

After admitting that running Apple can often feel alienating, Cook said he doesn't think most deserve any sympathy.

"You have to recognize that you have blind spots. We all do. Blind spots move, and you want to not just have really bright people around you, but people who will push on you and people to bring out the best in you," he explained. "People that amplify whatever you're good at. And then also the people who plug the parts that you're not and may never be."