Ousted head of Abercrombie & Fitch Michael Jeffries didn't understand that. He assumed, given his success in making the retailer iconic, that he had the Midas Touch when it came to cool. He was wrong.
As Susan Berfield and Lindsey Rupp report in Bloomberg Business Week, A&F went into a downward spiral. Jeffries was not supplying what the changing marketplace demanded.
Teens wanted to pay a whole lot less for their clothes. After all, those digital gadgets are expensive. Jeffries refused to discount.
The population was becoming obese. Jeffries wouldn't stock anything larger than size 10. It got out that he said he only wanted thin people in his store.
Employees had good ideas and wanted a say. Jeffries demanded total conformity with what he considered the brand identity.
Few leaders can remain cool. An exception had been Steve Jobs. Cary Grant retired from film relatively young, before his unique style of elegance became uncool.
Leaders who endure, ranging from Warren Buffett to Betty White, aren't positioned and packaged as cool.
The persona carrying less peril is this: There to be useful and render service.