In my recent entry I spoke of the challenge of selecting a leader and what we can learn from the current presidential candidates.  In a recent post by Idris Mootee “Visionary Leaders with Purposes Are Not Easy to Replace” he raises the example of Steve Jobs, the visionary leader of Apple Computer.

I loved his comment “Visions with purposes are particularly powerful as they induce clarity, consensus and commitment around their core purposes.

[Emphasis is mine]. They raise both individual and organizational aspirations and encourage people to devote extraordinary amounts of energy and commitment to ensure that their organizations are ultra-competitive.”  What a wonderful description of the power of having the leadership tune into the Soulful Purpose of the organization, the purpose that lies at the very core of every organization.

And then he moved onto the question of who would replace Jobs (evidently there was a mistaken release of Jobs demise in Bloomberg which was quickly retracted) that raises the can Jobs be replaced and what happens to Apple? And Idris offers some very worthy candidates.

And though he states “Succession planning isn’t regarded as a core organizational process, as important as M&A”, he seems to follow the same path that he has just criticized.  Don’t get me wrong I love Idris’s posts and think he brings forward many great ideas.  Only in this one he neglected to take up the gauntlet that he is so accurately laid down.  How does a Board properly address CEO Succession?

Most people, as did Idris, look for people with star talent, people who have accomplished much and are therefore viewed as great leaders.  And of course we all know that a great leader can lead anything, or so the conventional wisdom states.

But as I pointed out in my previous blog, this is clearly not the case.  A person who is great at a start-up is not great at leading a turnaround, and neither of them would be very good for a company experiencing growth.  And when it comes to Apple the very core of its being, the very essence of its Soulful Purpose is its ability to innovate; and not just any innovation, but innovation that creates enhanced and unique user experiences.

What happens when you bring in a great leader who is not the right “great leader” for an organization” you end up with a Scully or a Fiorina.

So look to the Soulful Purpose of an organization, look at the environment it is in and the one it will be in as time moves on.  And ask less about what someone has done and more about what type of leader attributes would be required for success.

Throughout his professional career as a Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Director, and Advisor to CEOs, Norman Wolfe has successfully guided corporations through major transitions leading to substantial growth, market expansion and enhanced financial performance.