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Human Resources

Why excellent leaders are not always the obvious candidates

IbyIMD+ Published 30 December 2021 in Human Resources • 7 min read

Companies should take more risks when it comes to appointing leaders – then give their selected candidates the right support. 

Leaders don’t always look like leaders. Many people rise in companies on the basis of the abilities, skills and knowledge they show, being slotted into roles where they obviously can be successful, then being more than happy to contribute their bit. Their goal isn’t to run the company they are in, but to play a crucial role in running a core part of that company.  

Their success in such roles, however, can blind others to the potential some of them have to go further. That’s particularly true for those who prefer not to push themselves into the limelight. Yet to judge people on their track record alone, and not to examine their potential, can mean overlooking some hidden gems.

The candidate 

Take, for example, Maikel Klomp. Three years ago, he made the switch from product manager to strategic executive at the head of a business unit. Born in the Netherlands in 1971, he graduated from Eindhoven University of Technology in 1997 with a degree in engineering, then immediately started working for Philips as a procurement manager. Over the next two decades, he excelled in a succession of challenging roles in the company’s lighting division (known as Signify since 2016).  

The biggest turning point in his career came in 2018, when he was appointed vice president of strategy and marketing for Signify’s LED business group. From then he moved on in quick succession, first to being vice president for its Americas consumer segment, then, in March this year, to head up WiZ Connected, its smart lighting business. 

Klomp has lived up to the company’s expectations, including playing a major role in making two significant acquisitions. Yet before he made the…

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