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Daredevils and doers

Nowadays, the papers are full of the economic crisis. It’s a hell of a recession! What about the Eurozone’s future? What about our competitive position? Yet, some companies bravely keep rowing against the current. They are not just doing well; they keep doing well in spite of all economic adversity.

Microsoft, for instance, definitely opts for innovation with its new Windows 8. The typical windows become tiles with some live information. People using a touch screen, are one up on the others. For several years already, Apple has been presenting itself as the ‘number one’ innovator, but Microsoft obviously doesn’t seem to worry about that. It is adopting a confident attitude towards the market.

Thrombogenics also appears to be flexible enough in order to achieve great successes, even in rough times. This company has been the first Flemish biotech company authorized to launch a drug in the US; it will do it all by itself. Although many jobs disappear in the pharmaceutical industry, Thrombogenics is obviously acting counter to this trend.

Who resists the crisis? The secret is simple: Microsoft and Thrombogenics have ‘promised and delivered’, even in times of economic recession. It is that simple, actually. And this goes for newcomers as well as for established values. Just take the time to check the Forbes list.

Would the type of leader be a determining factor for success? I think so. My experience of many years in corporate life confirms this presumption. Although I admit that the market plays an important role and that also the product you want to sell, is determinant, there are winners and losers within all sectors.

But which factor is determinant? Right: the type of leaders standing on top of the company. Who are the doers and who are the daredevils? In my explanations, I use two stereotypes in order to make myself clear:
  • Doers are looking to the past (too often). When the turnover comes under pressure, they strive for more efficiency and cost savings. They put everyone under pressure, even their suppliers. However, it remains ‘more of the same’, after all. Working harder and saving even more. Usually, they avoid taking risks and prefer to play safe. Consequently, their results are quite stable initially and they keep enjoying the stakeholders’ trust, even when they are slowly but surely going downhill.
  • Daredevils hate routine and avoid that everyone would stay safe. They stand close to their customers and would do anything in order to impress them by means of their pioneering innovations and step changes. Unfortunately, they often don’t pay enough attention to less important customers. Consequently, they are often short of money, especially because their financiers sometimes quit at crucial moments since they can’t follow their reasoning anymore. Daredevils conquer the market by means of their pioneering ideas. At least, if they manage to concretize their plans...
Does it mean that you need to appoint two CEOs? No, of course not. Just make sure you have a combination of both leadership styles within your team.

Actually, everything starts with sufficient self-knowledge. Every CEO should know which of his/her sides is most developed. Are you rather a daredevil or a doer? Once you know this, you can try to find an enduring balance. If you are a doer, I recommend you to get yourself surrounded by enough daredevils. This will allow you to compensate for what you don’t dispose of yourself. Daredevils, on the other hand, should be complemented by doers.

A well-balanced team in control of the situation. That’s what it’s all about. The ideal mix between ‘daring’ and ‘doing’. After all, it is useless to sell your products at the lowest price in a declining market. Doing pioneering innovations in an economically irresponsible way is not a solution either. Continuity and innovation are the key words in this mix. And they can only be achieved within a well-balanced empowered team.

Nobody is perfect, but a well-balanced team with sufficient self-knowledge can come close to perfection, you know!

Have a nice weekend,


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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