Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise

Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise

Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise

Lead Right for Your Company's Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise


From turf wars to low morale, most companies attempt to cure what ails them with the latest management fad--and fail. They are treating the symptoms while ignoring the true problem.

Success starts with knowing the kind of business you're really in. Lead Right for Your Company's Type argues that every enterprise falls into one of four categories as dictated by their customer promise: customized (e.g. ad agency), predictable and dependable (e.g utility company), benevolent (e.g. educational institution), and best in class (e.g. high-tech company like Apple). When leadership practices fit the customer promise and company type, the organization thrives. But apply the wrong practices and the mismatch pulls the enterprise apart. Example after example exposes the fallout:

  • A small arts college destabilized by top-down rules designed for a predictable and dependable company
  • A mid-tier retail chain derailed by leadership demands for superior products instead of reliably low prices
  • A software giant brought to its knees by prioritizing profits over innovation

Insightful and practical, the book's proven tools and five-step process will help you diagnose your organization's ills--and stop them at their source.


I first met Bill Schneider when he was admitted to St. Louis University’s psychology program as a graduate student. I was a member of the graduate faculty at that time. It was my good fortune that he selected me as his advisor. I soon discovered that he was a cut above his fellow students in his capacity for abstract thinking. He perceived patterns and relationships that were indiscernible to others. It was impressive to watch him struggle to find words and metaphors to make the indiscernible communicable to the rest of us. Early on he developed an interest in systems theory and became a voracious student of anything related to it. His reading reinforced his tendency to look beyond the obvious, to probe more deeply, and to search for the “connectedness of things.” As a graduate student he honed this interest and inclination into a mental discipline that has served him well throughout his career.

After I left the University, Bill joined me as a colleague in my consulting firm. We worked together on organizational development projects for several years and had the opportunity to gain experience with a number of different types of organizations. Bill’s interests at that time were focused on organizational culture and leadership. He later moved on to a number of larger human resource consulting firms. Our friendship remained intact but our paths diverged. We continued to communicate with each other over these years, recommending books to each other, sharing experiences in working with our respective clients, and engaging in discussions about organizational theory and the critical role of leadership. During these intervening years he continued to pursue his interest in system theory and developed the core concepts contained in this book: organizations as living systems—self organizing, homeostatic and evolving networks; the four distinct types of organizations; the inextricable linkage of customer purpose, culture and leadership; the attention and . . .

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