- Award winning expert on Breakthrough Leadership and exceptional growth

My belief in leadership

Business growth in a zero growth economy is possible. It is a matter of leadership.

The expectations to the growth in the Danish and global economy is still close to zero. The most optimistic growth estimations for Scandinavia, Europe and US predict growth rates of approximately 2 %. Markets like Russia, India, China and Latin America generally offer higher growth rates; however in these countries the per capita consumption is 5 to 10 times lower than that of Scandinavia.

Thus, if you want to create significant growth in your company’s revenue and profit, the conclusion is clear:

Growth is something you and the company must create on your own through
breakthrough leadership and with an uncompromising focus on growth leadership.

During the last years I have created 20, 30, 40 and even 55 % annual growth with clients in zero growth markets and industries. The following contains short descriptions of some of the major insights I have obtained during these numerous growth projects.


Reality does not exist but is created by powerful leaders. Or stated differently, when the executive management outweighs the problems, which block the path to the ambitious growth target, the desired growth will materialize. If the opposite is the case, it is only a matter of time, before the company is history. AUT AUGMENTUM AUT MORS – Either your company grows or it dies.

Take a look at BMW, Lego, Novo Nordisk, Apple and similar companies; nothing in the general economy predicts their growth. Nevertheless, these companies have grown significantly. Now consider companies like Nokia and B&O instead. What has determined their decline? The difference is poor leadership.

It is all a matter of leadership. Almost every company has the potential of significant growth. It is always a question of whether the leaders are able to make it happen or not.


Only the ambitious goal can make change relevant. If the organization can reach its targets without changing, nobody will change. Hence, the ambitious goal is the only path to real change. The ambitious goal is your primary guiding star and your leadership invitation to the organization.


When you increase the pressure on your organization by increasing the ambitions, it is crucial that you offer your organization a significant increase of leadership support. This can be your mere presence, implementation of growth meetings and workshops, one-to-one coaching, and several other initiatives. But one thing is certain. Only by increasing the value of your leadership support, your organization will enter growth mode.


(Unfortunately), it is only when your employees are out of their comfort zone, they will be hungry for real change and improvement. The same goes for you.


On a five-point scale, the correlation between leadership and results looks like this:

It does not matter if your leadership contribution is 1, 2, 3 or 4. The real impact on the results will not materialize until you make a leadership contribution, which exceeds 4,5. Usually, when I ask top executives if their leadership is really pushing the results ahead, they answer “yes”, although we together realize that the real answer is “no”. That is why you have to be absolutely certain that your leadership style pushes uncompromisingly for real results, when you are dealing with your most important growth projects.


The latest research, clearly displays the importance of allowing each employee to understand the point of the growth ambition. The research does also show that it is impossible to transfer meaning from leader to employee, because sense making is very personally founded. This means goodbye to PowerPoint and classical strategy presentations.

Instead it calls for a significantly changed leadership approach – the key concept is ”Growth coaching”.


When you build a house, you always have to make sure that the foundation is solid. When you want significant growth, the leadership team is the foundation. Thus, there will be no growth unless we increase the leadership team’s competences, leadership power, and ability to work together. That is why I always devote a great part of my time for the leadership team, when we implement the growth strategy.


When you as top executive and company decide to create growth, it is extremely important that the context of the company supports the growth target. By context I mean “leadership”, “physical environment”, “benefits and compensations schemes”, ”information”, ”consequences of underperformance”, ”reporting structure” and the like.

Often I find that there is a tremendous imbalance between the growth targets and the contextual elements.


I have seen it numerous times. When the growth pressure on the organization is increased, the employee satisfaction will decrease for the consecutive one or two surveys. But once we reach our growth targets, the employee satisfaction increases to the highest level ever.

This is a law of nature, which requires that you have steady nerves. In return the award is enormous. What is your guess on the level of employee satisfaction in BMW and Apple vs. that of B&O and Danske Bank?


Years ago I presumed that the top executives of my clients were ready for growth and understood the personal implication of an ambition of 25 % annual growth. I have stopped assuming so. Only a scarce minority is ready to makes this significant personal move. The rest has to be prepared. For this reason I usually initiate a growth process by coaching the CEO.


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The Burning Ambition

In this, my fourth book, I will share all my insights and secrets about breakthrough leadership and

how you create business growth in a zero growth economy.

Thank you for your interest in my new book.

In this, my fourth book, I will share all my insights and ­secrets about breakthrough leadership with you. How you can create extraordinary and lasting breakthrough growth in top and bottom line performance, “simply” by changing the way you lead the company.

From “burning platform” to “burning ambition”

Most industries and companies have now adapted to the new world order of recession or the post-recession zero growth environment. This means that most companies no longer have to fight for their life on a day-to-day basis and the idea of using the “burning platform” is more or less gone. The recession was a great chance to rethink, redirect and reinvent the company. If you utilized that opportunity I guess that your company is close to being in the best shape ever. This means it is time to capitalize on the great additional potential in the marketplace and in the company – by ­creating a “burning ambition”.

The concept of the “burning platform” is pain driven. The situation is painful and you have got to run. “Where to” does not really matter. The alternative, the concept of “burning ambition”, is pleasure driven – it is about a particularly attractive situation or state that you want to realize

– a place you want to go.

Most companies have a huge potential that can be liberated through breakthrough leadership. It is not unlikely that top and bottom-line performance can be grown by 25 to 50 per cent year-on-year via breakthrough leadership.

It all starts with you believing in the additional potential. If you do this in the right way the upside is fantastic and the potential downside is close to non-existent. This is the optimal situation and starting point for your transformation.

Join me on my breakthrough mission.

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– anything becomes possible

The compact GUIDE TO great leadership

Why do we have leaders, and why do we exercise leadership?

The purpose of leadership is to create the desired reality for the company, irrespective of what ­happens around or inside the company. The only ­justification for having leadership, is if we can make the impossible, possible. The company can experience a crisis all by itself. The company can give customers poor service by itself. And the company can fail to meet its budgets, by itself.

The only rationale for having leaders is if we can compensate for the things which are dogging the company, and despite external factors, create the desired results by challenging the mindset within the company about what is possible, and creating dramatic business breakthroughs.

You could say that the fate of companies depends on the effect of the leadership process. The profit implications of good or bad leadership can be counted in the millions – or even billions, as has been shown of late.

Far too many leaders go around in their comfort zone, creating mediocre results compared to their full potential. In the wake of the financial crisis, many people talked about "crisis leadership". The question is, rather, whether the financial crisis created a "leadership crisis"?

Shake off the dust and raise the cap on the changes you are trying to create through your leadership. Challenge yourself, the company, and each employee – today!

Shareholders and boards should demand that Jesper Elling be a compulsory element of all strategy development. He is able to eliminate mediocrity, and create a mindset and actions that deliver extraordinary results.


CIO, Kenneth Egelund Schmidt, Carlsberg

Jesper J. Elling has the recipe for HUGE BREAKTHROUGHS. If you are curious as to whether the i-mpossible really is possible – let Jesper lead you on a journey of discovery! It will require COURAGE as a leader, but it is ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT – for the organisation, your leader team, your company owners or board, and for you personally.


Charlotte Møller-Andersen, Director, D&B

Working with Jesper Elling is always a very dynamic experience. He is actually an accelerator 'in person', and the potential within your business is far greater than you think or dare believe.


Jesper Brøckner, CEO,Telia Danmark

Jesper J. Elling has gone to -extraordinary lengths to establish Breakthrough Thinking at TDC.


Carsten Dilling, Senior Executive VP Operations, TDC

Jesper J. Elling was determined to cut to the bone and keep this, his third book, under 100 pages in length. The bold message is extremely focused, with no unnecessary sidetracks, out of respect for the reader’s busy schedule.

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