The departure of senior Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky earlier this week has had business and tech circles buzzing. It was unexpected, immediate, and came on the heels of the release of Windows 8. Throughout the press accounts of the breakup, Sinofsky was consistently referred to as a "leader." In fact, the New York Times held up this event and the departure of Apple executive Scott Forstall as examples of the challenge of knowing when to keep "brilliant leaders who cannot seem to get along with others..."
Full disclosure: I do not know Mr. Sinofsky and I want to disparage neither him nor his accomplishments. He may well be looked back on as a technology visionary. What I take issue with, however, is our collective tendency to automatically call people in senior positions "leaders" and then be disappointed when they fail to display leadership.