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The Paradox of Leadership

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I’m stealing the title and inspiration from this post from @mitchjoel, which was amongst the posts that entertained me in my journey back home on Boxing Day during the tube strike.

We can easily recognise leadership when we see it. We have key people, products, brands in the market that everyone can point out as being the most successful. It’s also interesting to see that being the most successful is not always related to $$$, except for Bill (yes, we are very close), the others in here are not in the list of the 100 wealthiest people.

So how did they get there?

We all know there are many roads to success. Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook took similar ones. They decided to take risks. At the time when they entered in the market, we can probably say they didn’t have much to lose. Now they are recognised as innovators, making the public expect them to take risks. And no, they cannot go wrong. That’s the price they pay for being the first.

This is the challenge in most businesses nowadays – should they be the first or should they be the best? Ok, obvious answer – let’s be both. But it doesn’t always work that way.

Someone needs to be the first. Does it have to be you?

Some might say that this is the difference between leaders and followers. Leaders are always willing to take risks for things they believe in. But what’s the chance of success? Because you innovate, take risks, it doesn’t mean you will succeed. But let’s be honest, someone needs to be first. That’s the only way we can evolve.

But if you step down from creating the most popular PC operating system, tablet, social network, search engine. Let’s be a bit more realistic. If you look into social media (here I go again, but it’s the best example). You can either choose to be one of the first in your market to have a presence there, or you can wait and see how your competitors do it and learn from it. There’s no right or wrong answer. The important thing is that you know what you have to win and most important, what you have to lose.

I love what @mitchjoel wrote at the end of his article. Here’s the ctrlV, ctrlCed version:

“My takeaways for Marketers: It’s ok if you’re not willing to take the risks. A lot of those risk-takers will be wrong. That being said, our industry needs more innovation and risk-takers.”


Written by Cristina Dresch

December 27, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Posted in Leadership, Strategy

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