“Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. […] In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
(Hobbes) Leviathan Chapter XIII (via dialektic)
It is for this reason that leadership is necessary for any enterprise to succeed. Leadership is not micromanagement, brutish dictatorship, or management by abdication. Leadership is not about always about knowing what to do, or about always listening to everyone. Leadership takes knowledge, wisdom, patience, drive, skill, relentlessness, humility, self-assurance, and extreme judiciousness.
In statecraft, leadership vacuums are catastrophic. In business, however, a time without an industrial Hegemon is generally one of great innovation, a Cambrianesque explosion of ideas, technologies and businesses, that will follow the classic patterns of growth, decay, war, and consolidation.
A great paradigm-shifting, insight-generating activity for business leaders is to think in terms of company growth like the formation, propagation, and extension of political superpowers such as the USA, British Empire, China, and the USSR. Likewise, the decline of superpowers like the USSR give us great inspiration for the kinds of leadership and management styles to avoid.
One of the best Fortune 100 executives I know likes to watch the History Channel and studies individual battles from the Napoleanic Wars, World War II, and others conflicts. He has used the strategies gleaned to catapult his employer to the number one position in its market, and himself to the CXO ranks of his company.