A few weeks back I had breakfast with a successful entrepreneur. Early in his career, he had worked for a boss who would not let him run his business unit the way he wanted to. Headstrong personalities that both were, professional disagreement soon led to conflict and the entrepreneur-to-be left the company.
He took over a small, faltering enterprise and over several years, turned it around into one of the major players in the industry. Along the way he acquired stock in the enterprise and became quite wealthy and influential.
“What would have happened if you had been given you full freedom, would you have stayed in the company?” I asked. “I probably would have” he said, “I may even have become just another successful senior executive”.
It’s a story I have come across many many times in my working life. A boss who runs roughshod over an ambitious executive, the executive leaves with a point to prove, and after a period of struggle ends up achieving great success.
Who should get the credit for the success? Most certainly the individual. He takes the risk and he does all the work. But I think the boss also deserves a fair bit of the credit. Never underestimate the value of bosses who pressure you into a state of mental clarity and fierce determination.
That state of mind is a prerequisite for success.