In peacetime, leaders must maximize and broaden the current opportunity. As a result, peacetime leaders employ techniques to encourage broad-based creativity and contribution across a diverse set of possible objectives. In wartime, by contrast, the company typically has a single bullet in the chamber and must, at all costs, hit the target. The company’s survival in wartime depends upon strict adherence and alignment to the mission.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company was weeks away from bankruptcy—a classic wartime scenario. He needed everyone to move with precision and follow his exact plan; there was no room for individual creativity outside of the core mission. In stark contrast, as Google achieved dominance in the search market, Google’s management fostered peacetime innovation by enabling and even requiring every employee to spend 20% of their time on their own new projects.
Peacetime and Wartime management techniques can both be highly effective when employed in the right situations, but they are very different. The Peacetime CEO does not resemble the Wartime CEO.
A fascinating and astute analysis of the two main types of leadership styles, depending on context.