”It takes passion to be a Challenger”

When I started sketching my new book about driver models and recipes for Challenger companies, I would love to bring people who could tell personally about their own Challenger trip.
It’s amazingly fun that so many qualified people have set up to tell their story.

It’s such a pleasure that so many qualified people have set up to tell their story.

One of them is Maria Hedengren. She has worked in a number of Challenger companies and is currently Chief Financial Officer at iZettle – a fast-growing company challenging the established banks across the board!

When we interviewed her, she did not hesitate for a second when we asked what you need in order to be a real Challenger:

– It requires passion! Throughout the organization! Both NetEnt and iZettle have had a number of forward-looking individuals who have put down their passion for the job. If your aim is to be a Challenger, the employees cannot see it as a job – it must be “a mission in life”!

– Just look at us at iZettle. We are all very driven and engaged. We do not sit down and wait, we just go for it. Not only the leaders, but all employees must be passionate about what we are doing!

At the same time, Maria Hedengren emphasizes that passion and commitment are not enough. Structure, in the form of a shared vision, goals and shared values, is also required:

– It’s important to have clear goals that inspire the employees to go that extra mile.

How, then, should you think as a leader in a Challenger company to make everything work? According to Maria Hedengren, one of the keys is to recruit the right people – those who feel a responsibility for the whole. Another key is the way you work as a leader in everyday life. A Challenger leader must be present!

– Talk a lot – not just about practical questions but also about attitude and approach. Give a lot of positive feedback to employees who are actually taking initiatives! Even if the result or the solution is not what you intended, the initiative itself must be encouraged!


Claes Knutson – Growth consultant, lecturer and founder of Tillväxtpartner

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