We’ve all seen the pattern and can recognize it. Successful organization has successful charismatic leader. Something happens to remove successful charismatic leader from organization. Then, organization looses coherence and suffers, or worse. This seems to be a very common pattern that occurs with most leaders and most organizations.
Even Mom and Pop restaurants suffer this fate. Restaurant does great as long as Mom and Pop are directly involved. Once Mom and Pop are removed (or remove themselves) from the picture, the business is never the same and may well fail.
When Sam Walton died back in 1992, I was certain that Walmart as an organization would probably either suffer some sort of meltdown or even outright failure. I turned out to be wrong. The thing that Sam Walton was highly effective at was that he was able to inspire as many of his employees as possible to make his dream of Walmart their own dream and put something of themselves into making that dream happen. With this structure, the organization did not depend on Sam Walton as its motivating identity force. Sam Walton inspired his employees to make their own success of Walmart.
Steve Jobs did exactly the opposite. Steve Jobs set himself up as THE motivating entity at Apple, with everything revolving around him. He not only was the primary motivating force for his employees, but incredibly this sense of identity also extended to customers. Steve was able to take Apple to heretofore unknown heights.
Unfortunately, it all depended on his continued existence.
Oh Apple, Splendid Acephalous
Corpulence Unmatched, Clinging To Dysfunction
Best Of Everything
Alas, No One Now To Point The Way