When investigating the different types of organizations, one will notice how different leadership is being exercised depending on what that organization does.
Take a university for example and you will notice how many forms leadership has. There might be a dean, but much of the leadership simply happens in class. The teaching can only be individual and results from the proficiency of the teacher. Anything else would mean that one doesn’t need the university and can rely on books for example.
Or take small organizations that are highly innovative. All of those involved in the innovation process will find that they are most effective when collaborating with others. That is without much leadership being visible as it is distributed.
Look at a bank. It is organized through processes and hierarchy to be as efficient as possible. The leader in such an organization will usually be much less visible than the processes that rule the system.
It is in the event of a crisis or when fearing the future, that calls for leaders will appear. And it is often when a crisis is happening, that a leader emerges and is being followed. That is when the group dynamic looks out for someone who can consolidate what is known to decide on the path that needs to be taken.
Naturally, there are also organizations within which leaders have a natural place and where their presence leads to a focus on them.
What is interesting is how the image of a leader is shaped by specific types of organizations and even more so by crises. The challenge is that it’s an image that may then be associated with any type of situation.