Where do you become the best leader?

When I was asked if I would like to participate as part of the Jury to EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year last year, I didn’t hesitate for one moment. Of course, I would! So many different business models, so many perspectives on running a business, so many solutions to important issues and so much energy, creativity and passion. I just went through this year’s candidates and was truly excited by the quality presented.

Common to all these companies – they can’t stop. They are enterprising, risk-averse, innovative, curious and eager to develop their businesses. They burst with energy and drive. It is obvious that these cases represent companies and managers who think and act in an agile way. As in their core, they are adaptable and create value in close interaction with their customers and partners.

In the book Paradoxes in Value Creation, the authors Cameron, Quinn, Degraff and Thakor put togethe a model for value creation. Specifically, they distinguish between four types of organizations: The market – where competition, market share, KPIs and rapid change are central. The hierarchy – where control, compliance and gradual change are the focal points. The clan – where collaboration, meaning and long-term visions are crucial. And finally, the Ad-hocraties – where creation, innovation and transformation are crucial drivers.

We all have the opportunity to make an active choice about where we want to be leaders.

The EY cases are prime examples of Ad-hocraties. They succeed in creating growth and development, and they are among the best at it. They differ significantly from the other types of organizations and their leaders. Especially from the large groups, where there is a focus on structure, processes, and control. And from the competitive companies that are fighting for market share and often on the Red Ocean.

Common to the enterprising enthusiasts is that they have actively chosen this size and type of organization. Several of them have experience from large hierarchies and market-driven organizations but have also recognized that it is not for them. That experience is important to bear in mind, and something I believe to be one of the cornerstones of good leadership.

Are you where you should be? We all have the opportunity to make an active choice about where we want to be leaders. What organizational context brings out the best in us as leaders. Where do we thrive the best? Where is it that we can contribute in the way we dream of. It is difficult to thrive in a place where the context is wrong. Too many leaders become so preoccupied with the position they have worked their way up to, that they overlook, that the context in which they will find themselves over time may not bring out the best in them anymore.

In other words – we can learn from these entrepreneurial leaders. Here are leaders who have both looked inward and recognized what it takes for them to go to work happy – and it rubs off on the results.

To be curious, creative and entrepreneurial – on your own behalf. To find out where we thrive is a crucial attribute for leading ourselves as leaders. And thriving as a leader – that is probably the most important prerequisite for good leadership.