We take this brief side-trip from our, "Making Meetings Matter" series to talk about an under-appreciated concept in organizational leadership. Sometimes it feels like leadership experts talk about the practice of "leadership" in narrowly-defined, myopic terms. "Leaders" tend to say "this," or "leaders" behave a certain way in certain situations.
To hear some leadership gurus describe it, you would think that the same leadership skills and styles apply equally well to all disciplines, all industries, and all challenges.
That's just not the case. Applying good leadership practices to the unique circumstances of one company versus another is rarely neat, tidy, or predictable. Leadership can be messy at times as you use a method that worked one time before only to find out that the new team doesn't respond the same way as the old.
Sometimes a leadership style that worked well in one environment backfires in another.
With Steve Jobs' death so fresh on our minds, a perfect example of a leadership mismatch springs to mind. John Sculley, skilled at leading consumer products giant PepsiCo, notoriously bombed at Apple when he tried to impose the skills he had honed at PepsiCo on the laid-back, Cupertino-based technology company. Jobs and Sculley clashed horribly, resulting in Jobs' departure from the company he founded in a garage with his friend Steve Wozniak back in the late 70's.